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Enjoy Your Stay!
February 11, 2009 5:58 AM   Subscribe

Phrases you are likely to need in Borneo, to judge from a phrasebook distributed in 1966 by the Borneo Literature Bureau. Enjoy your stay!
posted by jim in austin (37 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
(Ask)MetaFilter: Is this poisonous?
posted by DU at 6:02 AM on February 11, 2009


May I eat these sand flies?
posted by orme at 6:02 AM on February 11, 2009


Drums stop! Next come guitar solo!
posted by netbros at 6:05 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your dart has immobilized me.
posted by jim in austin at 6:07 AM on February 11, 2009


I got a kick out of this earlier. He should have saved the cockroach thing for last, though.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:09 AM on February 11, 2009


Before visiting rural Tanzania I remember noticing that the Swahili phrase for "I have diarrhoea" was the elegantly compact "Nina hara". That should have been a warning.
posted by rongorongo at 6:11 AM on February 11, 2009


"The cockroaches have eaten my shirt" will now be my excuse for everything.
posted by flashboy at 6:13 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am particularly fond of, "Wait while I remove these leeches."
posted by jim in austin at 6:15 AM on February 11, 2009


I got a kick out of this earlier. He should have saved the cockroach thing for last, though.

I've used both of these innumerable times in Borneo. Also New York.
posted by DU at 6:16 AM on February 11, 2009


...This reminds me of a similar post I saw elsewhere:

Someone on Livejournal once posted a rather dubious collection of phrases from a book of "useful English phrases" for Arabic speakers. (...this is not the joke you think it is...this is more "my hovercraft is full of eels" territory.)

What they have as a "typical" epithet is "Damn the sea!" and they actually teach you how to say "he missed the butt" (which I don't see quite why you'd need to be able to say, but there you go).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:17 AM on February 11, 2009


How do you say, "I choose Oogabooga"?
posted by chillmost at 6:17 AM on February 11, 2009


"It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue."

rongorongo: "Before visiting rural Tanzania I remember noticing that the Swahili phrase for "I have diarrhoea" was the elegantly compact "Nina hara". That should have been a warning."

You know, I read somewhere that non-English-speakers find "diarrhea" to be one of the most beautiful words in the language. Maybe humans are inclined to linguistic euphemisms.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:27 AM on February 11, 2009


Thanks, I've just added that website to my collection of "good more than once a day" bookmarks, and the "word-a-day" entries in particular are great:

plenilune: a full moon
decemnovenarianize: to act like a person of the 19th century
paneria: a scarcity of men
spanogyny: a scarcity of women (a formal way of saying BOYZONE, perhaps?)

Heh. I only wish I could remember enough of these to be

lexiphanic: using pretentious words
posted by roombythelake at 6:35 AM on February 11, 2009


When we were learning Tibetan I remember getting a grim chuckle out of some of the chapters in Charles Bell's high-imperialist Grammar of Colloquial Tibetan.
posted by Abiezer at 6:36 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


My hovercraft is full of eels.
posted by DreamerFi at 7:00 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


"There are too many rats" implies that in Borneo there is an optimal number of rats. Does the phrasebook also tell you how to say "There are not enough rats"?
posted by scratch at 7:00 AM on February 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


My initial reaction was that this seemed too good to be true. Fortunately, I work next door to one of the world's great research libraries, and we have the book. Scans to follow momentarily.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:06 AM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Horace Rumpole: Yessssssss. This is why I love MetaFilter!
posted by sarabeth at 7:13 AM on February 11, 2009


And: "Is the burning finished?"???
"Well, look here Mr. Fancy Explorer-Pants, when this orange-yellowy wavy hot stuff we like to call 'fire' has gone the so-called 'burning' part is over..."
posted by PontifexPrimus at 7:25 AM on February 11, 2009


We need to get a Barack Obama audiobook of this. For purposes.
posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on February 11, 2009


English-Iban phrasebook, a Flickr set. Sorry about the quality of the scans, it's a little pocket-size book that probably hasn't been opened since the day we bought it, so it was a struggle to get good images (that's why you can see my fingertips at the bottom). This is the first time it's ever been checked out.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:34 AM on February 11, 2009 [32 favorites]


Where is my towel?

Ahhh, the eternal question.

(Many thanks for sharing those scans!)
posted by sarabeth at 7:40 AM on February 11, 2009


Awesome.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:46 AM on February 11, 2009


Some of these would make great Facebook statuses. I'm going to change mine to "Bibliowench has a bad pain/snakebite/gunshot wound."
posted by bibliowench at 8:07 AM on February 11, 2009


Where can I defecate?

Here.

Great post, and great follow-up by Horace Rumpole!
posted by languagehat at 8:19 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Horace Rumpole wins today's Internet, because now I not only know that somebody translated "The cockroaches have eaten my shirt", I now know the phrase "Baju aku dempa indu gerinang".
posted by ardgedee at 8:24 AM on February 11, 2009


When we were learning Tibetan I remember getting a grim chuckle out of some of the chapters in Charles Bell's high-imperialist Grammar of Colloquial Tibetan.

When I was learning Sanskrit I remember chuckling at the title of A.A. MacDonell's Practical Sanskrit Dictionary.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:57 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nthing the Awesome
posted by WickedPissah at 9:25 AM on February 11, 2009


I love this so much; words cannot say. I couldn't even tell you why, but it is The Awesome.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:14 AM on February 11, 2009


If you don't leave me alone, I will ache my tooth at you.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:21 AM on February 11, 2009


Please do not eat my head.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:56 AM on February 11, 2009


Horace Rumpole, thank you *so* much for posting those pictures - it's great to see the source material.

I don't know why, but I'm consistently surprised by how much overlap there is between Malay and the other languages in the southeast asian archipelago. Heck, it still surprises me how much Tagalog sounds like Malay, even after all these years. [This just means I need to learn Tagalog, I guess]. So it's pretty great to see some documentation of Iban and to see the similarities.

Considering that I'm coming at this from Malay, I can attest that it looks like the translations themselves seem to be fairly straightforward with no Engrish-like mistakes on the Malay analogues, so I would assume the same holds true for the Iban. I can't comment as to the choice of phrases, though.

Except for the cockroach thing.

Is there ever a choice, chillmost?
posted by ooga_booga at 1:35 PM on February 11, 2009


I was in Borneo last summer. They weren't joking about the leeches.
posted by arabelladragon at 4:52 PM on February 11, 2009


There are too many rats.
There are a lot of mosquitoes here.
The cockroaches have eaten my shirt.
Where can I defecate?
This floor is not safe.


Oh, go and make me miss New Orleans, why don't you.

No, I'm serious.
posted by hippugeek at 6:38 PM on February 11, 2009


MetaFilter: Aku tu tesat.
posted by not_on_display at 5:41 AM on February 23, 2009


how much overlap there is between Malay and the other languages in the southeast asian archipelago

Yeah for real! The Malay dialect spoken in Sarawak is noticeably influenced by Iban, which blurs the line some more. Listening to the few Iban-medium radio programs here in Kuching is a trip, because the rhythm, the cadence, the accent, everything is so similar to Malay and yet I can't understand a word of it.
posted by BinGregory at 6:04 AM on February 23, 2009


Hear Iban spoken (and sung) on Radio Kitai. The player is on the right, halfway down.

A bit about the development of an Iban alphabet from the works of an early 20th century Iban inventor.

Iban phrases that you will find more useful these days.
posted by BinGregory at 6:18 PM on February 24, 2009


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