Friday, January 1, 2016

How to Say 'Steelers' in Enga

Happy New Year! We got such a good response to our update last month about how to translate the word 'Go' from 'Go Steelers!' that I decided to follow up this month with a segment on how to translate 'Steelers'.

Normally, proper nouns like 'Steelers' are not translated. Rather they are just transliterated (in other words, they are written according to the writing system of the target language). Enga doesn't have the letter 'r', and it doesn't allow consonant clusters like 'St', so a transliteration of Steelers would look something like 'Sitilas'.

But, for fun, let's say we actually wanted to translate 'Steelers' into Enga. The name 'Steelers' is based on the fact that Pittsburgh is historically a city of steel workers. So the name 'Steelers' roughly means 'those who make steel'. (It does not mean 'those who steal'…that would be 'Stealers' with an 'a').

The problem is that steel as a building material is completely foreign to traditional Engan culture. As such there is no word for 'steel' in Enga. When there is no corresponding word in the target language, one option is to borrow a term from another language. Now we could borrow the term 'steel', but Engans would confuse it with the Tok Pisin term 'stil', which itself is borrowed from the English term 'steal'. So just borrowing the English term 'steel' would not work. We have to look for another term to borrow. The best option would probably be 'ain', which is the Tok Pisin spelling of the English word 'iron'. So if we borrowed the word 'ain', we could translate the name 'Steelers' as 'the men who make ain'.

But let's say we wanted to translate without borrowing any words from Tok Pisin or English. We would then have to find the closest equivalent to the word 'steel' that does exist in traditional Enga culture. That would probably be the term 'anda pingina', which means 'house post' and is the largest post that is used to make a traditional Engan house. That would leave us with 'the men who make house posts' as our translation for 'Steelers'. But to really emphasize how strong steel is, we would need to add the qualifying phrase 'very strong', which would leave us with 'the men who make very strong house posts'.

But really, when we talk about the 'Steelers', we aren't talking about men who make steel. Rather we are talking about men who play football like men who make steel. In traditional Engan culture, there is absolutely no equivalent to 'football', so we would be forced to borrow a term. And because American football is not well known in Papua New Guinea, the closest equivalent would be 'rugby'. So that would lead us to 'the men who play rugby being like those who make really strong house posts. But in Enga it would literally be 'men house posts very strong make being like rugby play the'. Combine that with our translation of 'Go' from last month's update, and we have, 'Men house posts very strong make being like rugby play the, count hold-huh!', which is the truly Engan way to say 'Go Steelers!'

Adam's family gathered together for Christmas
Hard to Say Goodbye
It is with sad and heavy hearts that we prepare to leave Pittsburgh to return to California. We've had a wonderful stay with my (Adam's) parents, and we truly enjoyed getting to spend Christmas with both of my sisters and their families. We are grieved to have to say goodbye again. While it is difficult for us to say goodbye to my parents and family, we recognize that it is equally, if not more difficult for them to say goodbye to us. We are truly grateful for their sacrifice in supporting our calling to serve in Papua New Guinea despite how difficult it is for them. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for a great few months together. We love you, and we will miss you greatly!