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This page,  Words of the Country

1/ Polynesian : It is spoken through a triangle defined by New Zealand, Hawaii and the Easter Island.
- The U says as "ou" in French, i.e a more or less than generally in English - The E says as "é" in French : Papéété, more or less than the "a" in English "paper". - the R seems to be sometimes a LL, sometimes a rolled rrr ; H are strongly expired, more than in English. There are lots of vowels in a word. the language comprises only 10 consonants, including a basic sound from the throat very special. All my excuses near the specialists for my ignorance, including for what follows. The Tahitian uses easily the French grammatical form "tu" very easily but it is not systematic : all will depend on the moment and the nature of the conversation (business, friendly discussion). If the interlocutor does not begin itself, the moment should be felt.
The most significant words ! MA' A TAHITI (Tahitian cooking ); CHEVRETTES (fresh river shrimp); MAHI MAHI (guilt-head, sea-bream) ; PUNU (preserve can : if you do not like the ma' a Tahiti). URU (fruit of the breadfruit tree if you are very hungry); but you can still go to the MATETE (market); and if all is badly, make the TAMA' ARAA (festival :significant here where the french celebration of 14 July last here all the July month long !!) you will be a little FIU (tired, not in form, after the festival) then E MA'HA (pay attention);

ORI TAHITI, UPA UPA TAMOURE (style of dance)

HOE (one), PITI (two), TORU (three); MAHA (four), PAE (five), ONO (six), HITU (seven), VAU (eight); IVA, (nine), AHURU (ten), HANERE (hundred), TAUATINI (thousand) ; ATIRA (enough ; E MEA RAHI (much)

Courtesy IA ORANA (hello) ; MAEVA ; MANAVA (hi) ; NANA (goodbye); MAURURU (thank you) ; MAEVA (welcome). Others : E (yes) ; AITA (no) ; AFEA (when) ; ANANAHI (tomorrow) ; INANAHI (yesterday) ; I TEIE NEI (now) ; EHIA (how much) NUI (large) ; ITI (small) recall : "Tahiti Nui" and "Tahiti Iti" (the large island and the small one) ; ANI (to ask); E MEA (that make: example, E MEA RAHI (that make much), E MEA HAAMA that made shame) ; TAPU (prohibited); PAREU (paréo) ; MORE (fibre of tree skirt ) ; FARE (house, nowadays made in breeze blocks and sheet metal for the roof) ; TRUCK (origin the USA, here bus, bus) ; MANUREVA (plane) ; MARAE (ancestral place of religious ceremony composed of an esplanade surrounded partially of low walls of stone and a higher built part constituting an altar. Some of them are now tourist area. Polynesians also have as a practice to build the tombs in front of their house and very often, straightforwardly in the alley, almost in front of the gate; they sit down, the children play there; the dead live among them (noted in Bora Bora, even in front of recent houses).

To avoid !!: stay away from NAONAO (also nonos : tiny insects that both enter anywhere and bite), TAOTE (doctor), MA' I (hospital). But the worst would be to encounter a TUPAPAU (ghosts who haunt certain places of ill repute at night, often in the same spot (Tahitian know them), the worst is at full moon and the few following days : avoid going out and keep a light lit at home; do not face the TUPAPAU, it's very (almost) serious.).

festivals and songs. MOANA (ocean); MOTU (coral small island) MOUA ; (mountain) ; APE (plant) ; PAPE (water) ; MATE (wind); ANAVAI (river); AO (day); RA (sun, analogy with the RÂ (sun) Egyptian?) ; AHIAHI (evening,sunset) ; PO (night) ; POIPOI (morning). To know a bit more : information (choose English-tahitian vocabulary)


2/ Caledonian and Kanak.

Caledonian We won't talk about Kanak language here because there would be about thirty languages and even more dialects in Caledonia: kanaks can't understand each other from one valley to another and French is essential ! As for Europeans (natives, and comparable), they preserved some American words from the time of the Second World War, when New Caledonia was the second military base of the Pacific.

TATA (goodbye); AWA ! (mark the astonishment, punctuates); CASSE PAS LA TETE ("don't break the head", don't worry) ; COALTAR (asphalts : tarred road) STOCKMAN (stock: cattle; Australia origin: "gauchos" in French); ASTIQUER (to hurry up); STATION (farm) ; POKEN (name given to the Anglo-Saxons; origin : "English spoken") ; TOPETTE (bottle of beer) ; BABY-CAR (small bus) ;   KANAK (means "man") ; POPINEE (woman kanak and also large lobster, perhaps because of the colour?) ; PILOU PILOU (war like dance kanak, see PILOU PILOU.

3/ GENERAL VOCABULARY AHIMA' A (Polynesian oven and food cooked on this occasion, like the Melanesian "bougna");
ALVERO OF MENDANA (discovers the Marquesas islands in 1595).

ARBRES A CANETTES (CANS TREE) (New Caledonia: the kanaks are accustomed to marking their passage everywhere, and, as in our countries, they carve the trees in nature. But they put also sometimes in the branches, along the roads, beer cans (called canettes in french);

AXES TREE (this term is pure invention of me, but here is the explanation : according to the writer Paul Block, the handle of the polished stone axes were thus carried out: one chose in the forest a special wood; it was split and the axe (stone) was fixed at it; wood while growing married it closely and tightened it with force. At the appropriate time, the branch was cut and the axe made, reinforced with links in hair of "roussette" (see below);

BREAD TREE (see below URU)

COCONUTS RINGS (sheet girdling the coconuts to prevent the rats from going up);

BANANA TREE (Comes from India and it is not a tree but a plant "herbaceous"

BANCOULE (well-known tree for its worms under its bark after he died. The large ones white reach 6 to 7 cm length for 1.5 cm in diameter; they are very appreciated by Melanesians and Polynesians roasted or even alive).

BAMI (Indonesian food containing fine vermiculation of soya, French beans, onions, shrimps, chicken (I appreciate it, very much);

BANYAN picture : From Noume, near Dumbea, driving the former La Tontouta road. About the scale, inside the circle, two kanaks of the tribe.
(fig tree of the Indies; tree which lets hang its roots to the ground starting from the branches. In fact it is a parasitic plant which being fallen on a tree, make growing its roots downwards; its hanging roots form multiple trunks in years which are welded between them with the time; the covered surface can be very significant. One announces two extraordinary cases ( French RMC 19 11 2002 broadcasting): in Sri Lanka, a banian covers 3.000 square meters, but in Calcutta, another covers 15.000 square meters! ).

BENGAÏOU (pelvic case in multicoloured skin of banyan which trails to ground. Paul Block, writer);

BLIGH William (Captain of the vessel "Bounty" (see "Bounty"; Captain BLIGH is also very known in PAPEETE because it is an cabaret-spectacle-aquarium)


BOUGNA (Earth-oven dish based on igname, tarots, papaws, banana to be cooked, chicken or fish, soaked with coconut and wrapped in banana tree leaves. Folding them is an art. The round bags are tied and put to cook in the oven made of heated stones covered with old coconut plaits and ground. Cooking lasts two hours. It is a hard work because it is first of all necessary to cut wood, to dig the ground, to make the fire, to heat the stones which must burning, open the oven without got burned oneself; is generally begun the day before. Succulent when it is prepared in the rules; the food is quite distinct and juicy. It is not ragout as one sees sometimes written. Bougna "cocotte" (pan) or worse the bougna "microwaves" !! that one can tax with acceptable for the tourists who will not know anything other);

BOUGAINVILLE (Louis Antoine of; first French captain to have carried out the whole world turn. Left Brest in December 1766 with the frigate "La Boudeuse" (The Sulky) person to officially gives the Falklands to Spanish, in order to keep the face with respect to English who had invaded the archipelago whereas one projected to colonize them. It attends the expulsion of the Jesuits in Uruguay, then penetrates in the Magellan Strait in December 1767 and undertakes the crossing of " the South Sea " (52 days of navigation) Bad encounter with the inhabitants of the archipelago of the navigators (Samoa islands); one shoot with rifle. To note the fire which the Polynesians maintain on board. April 5, 1768, it reaches Tahiti, "the new Cythère" where there will remain 10 days. Excellently greeted in Tahiti, perhaps because of the bad memory of the guns of Samuel Wallis, it described the country like a paradise in spite of some vexations (brawls, including three Tahitians killed, flights), which was awaited by readers of Rousseau which discoursed then on " the good savages "; it would have taken on board the first Polynesian for France. It reach St Malo in March 1769 after a difficult crossing; texts from "Larousse encyclopaedia".

BOUNTY the Revolted of Bounty ", 1789; The Bounty, vessel ordered by the captain BLIGH, whose crew had rebelled itself because, they says, some did not want to leave "savours" of the islands. Was to bring back the breadfruit tree to the Antilles but was delayed by the bad weather, made U-turn and still waited the good season for the tree, that is to say nearly one year of delay. The sailors had time to appreciate the country. "They set out again (with difficulty) but the crew rebel not very far on the path of the return; was put down in a boat by its second officer, with some faithful companions and food. He ends up joining the Indies, which is miraculous; the crew of the boat sought an island to settle but returned finally to Tahiti to unload of it another part, which had a certain influence in the local conflicts. The boat set out again with the remainder of Tahtians - males and females -  and settled on an island; their paradise hardly lasted and " the second " was killed. Those of Tahiti were brought back by the British meanwhile, returned to seek the breadfruit tree and thus one finds it in the Antilles (seen in Martinique) NOTICE : there are several versions of this history and I made of it a " digest ", not necessarily more credible).

BUSH (in french "brousse") In opposition to the town of Nouméa, all the "interior" of the great New Caledonia: one goes "in bush") remind the Australian "Outback".

(LE) CAILLOU (the) pebble. name given to the principal island of New Caledonia).

CAGOU (emblematic bird of New Caledonia which does not fly and barks like a roquet!). The Southern province of New Caledonia manages a program of conservation based on three s : 1 - the breeding in captivity, with the zoological gardens and forest, program which is now the object of an international co-operation (zoos of Yokohama, in Japan, of San Diego in California, Walsrode in Germany) and local (three private stockbreeders associated the program, more than 120 produced birds).  2 - the repopulation of the natural environment and the fight against predatories ; this action made it possible the provincial park of the Blue River to see its population increasing from 60 individuals in 1978 to nearly 500 in 1999. You can barelyv visit this park without seeing there at least one cagou. 3 - research, as well in the natural environment as in captivity. They lead to better know the biology of the species  : predation by the rats, its control, genetic variability within the subpopulations of cagou and between them.
They are also the object of a dense international coopéralion. Inside the very whole island, no true census was led but the evoked figures (total population of 700 birds in 1992) are obviously pessimistic. The species is completely protected (drives out, captures and detention prohibited by the regulation voted by the provinces. For several years, the cagous have reappeared in many points of the main Island ;

CALDOCHE (name given to Calédoniens in opposition to Kanak).


CHAO MEIN (very widespread Chinese food in Tahiti, especially " in the area "roulottes" the evening on the quays: a little long to prepare in spite of the dexterity of the cook, but good and copious: especially containing vegetables.

COCONUT TREE (COCOTIER in French) believed to originate from tropical islands but comes from Asia.

CIGUATERA ( see "gratte", below).

COOK James (genius and tireless English sailor ; discover the channel of Balade (New Cal) on September 5, 1774, when sailing for the second time, passing by New Zealand, aboard on the Adventure accompanied with the Resolution. Landed, he is astonished to watch how carefully natives prepare the soil for the igname culture. They say also that he had saw a human sacrifice. Goes down along the east coast until the "île des Pins" (pine island) ; Give the name of New Caledonia ; visit the Society islands ; Fantastic work on findings but also in catographic, botanic, ethnologic... "La Pérouse" has said : he has made so much that he has left nothing to me but admire his work" !! he died unfortunately in Hawaïi for unrespecting traditions at a religious feast.

COPRAH (coconut crushed and dried to make copra oil).

COUTUME (New Caledonia custom of courtesy and dealing based on exchange of little gifts (beverage, cigarettes, material, small bills.

; enquire before showing up at a tribes; CRABE DE COCOTIER (COCONUT CRAB) lives in the ground and go out from its tunnels at night to break the coconuts. Reach 3 kgs and 40 cm long !! ; with its powerful claws it peal and crack them. Can climb up in the tree but prefer those fallen down on the ground. Its body is not round but rather insect shaped.

CREEK (origin USA ; in french :rivière);

(English game practiced by the women kanak) ;

CURIOS (sales for tourists).

DENGUE (Illness transmitted by mosquitoes, bearing a virus : nearly without any danger for the tourists within touristic area. Symptoms are like flu, with a strong fever ; it would be rather close to the yellow fever. The symptoms are like influenza, with a strong fever. There are several varieties and one would be immunized after having had it, but only for the infecting variety; it is alas a disease known as "emergent", i.e. in progression; these ten last years (at the date of 2000), there are epidemics with sometimes some deaths. It is reassuring to learn that one would need "an accumulation of bites" to develop the disease, which puts in theory out of danger the tourists and the inhabitants of the protected zones; but it evolves. More : Institut Malardé ;

D'ENTRECASTEAUX, French sailor sent to retrieve La Perouse but without any success. Passed away from Vanikoro and did not stop ; explored the eastern cost of Balade in 1792/1793 and discovered several islands nearby the New Caledonia).

DUGOUTS (Polynesians conquered the Pacific, as nobody could conceive it in our "modern society", on board of dugouts which could be very large, with double hull. (see also Oceania). Many other sort of dugouts were built, but the most astonishing are certainly those which have sewn hulls., " The dugouts which we manufactured were made of boards sewn between them and caulked with coconut flock mixed with sap of . They were less sturdy than the dugouts they were dug in breadfruit tree trunks, but both faster to build and lighter". Account of Tavae in its book "so far from the world".

DUMONT D'URVILLE (French sailor sent to retrieve La Perouse in April 1826, from the harbour of Toulon ; Visited the New Zealand, Loyauté islands, northern coast of New Guinea and retrieved finally pieces of wreckage at Vanikoro on February, 26 1828.. textes encyclopédie Larousse ).

FILAO (called also "iron wood" or "casuarina" for it is common on the great south of New Caledonia due to the soil rich in iron and also for its leaves that looks like the feathers of the bird casoar) littoral tree with thin needles that hang and move softly in the wind ; resistant wood and light. Give a light but agreeable shade when rather big);

FLAMBOYANT (come from Madagascar. Is entirely covered by red flowers in summer, from late October.

FLECHE FAITIERE (New Caledonia) : wooden sculpture at the top of a hut; mark the rank of the owner) ;

GAMELLE(New Caledonia : three courses catering service delivered in cans for a reasonable price ;

GRATTE (or ciguatera : "gratte" in French because of the rash. Illness transmitted by certain fishes ; serious cases very rare ; symptoms are fever, rash and a great sensibility to the water, while washing hands and so on.. dwindling from the ban of certain fishes and with the progress of freezing. More : Institut Malardé).

HINDS OF SEA (BICHES DE MER or HOLOTHURIES in french) kind of black roll, up to 25 cm long, very unpleasant when it is necessary to choose a free place to put its foot while entering the water of certain lagoons; not dangerous at all, it is a digestive tube ; Chinese eat them, but may be some other people too, if necessary);

IA OTA > (raw fish, Tahitian dish ; the fish (can be Mahi Mahi) is marinated into lemon and coco juice, served with thin slices of carrots, tomatoes, oignons .. ; very good) ; here is a regular recipe   - for 4 people, cut 1 kg of tuna (alternative : sea-bream) in small dice (that reduces the time of marinade), rinse into salted water,  add 1 crushed clove of garlic (or "home recipe", small white pieces of onion), let soak into a little salted water  for half an hour in the refrigerator  (you can skip this). Drain fish and let it marinate 5 to 10 mn in the juice of 8 green lemons. Throw the remaining lemon juice; rasp 2 carrots, add 2 tomatos, 1 small cucumber (or "home recipe", chive instead of tomatos and cucumber) and add them with the milk of a rasped coconut. Salt, pepper (white pepper), mix and serve fresh.
- About the coconut juice, hand grate the pulp or break it into chunks and a mix them, add a maximum of 5 dl  water (hot if you want) by each 500g of pulp; let rest during 20 mn, put in a linen and twist it.

Ancestral recipe (extract from the Tavae's book "So far from the world" : fish "recipe" in the Touamotus islands: "one crushes the fish to tenderize its flesh, without removing the skin which acts as bag, then one tears off the head and the bone which can be  then easily detached. One dip again the fish in sea water, in its envelope of skin, so that salt cooks a little the flesh, and finally one mixes it with crushed coconut". "A raw fish is better with a little vinegar".

 The surgeon fish (Touamotu); "the mother-of-pearl fishermen made it roast on a side and other on a wood fire, then they remove the skin, a thick skin which had taken the constancy of a crust with the fire. This moment, they placed on the flesh fine plates of the liver which they had preserved, before covering fish with its skin, so that while melting the liver, which is very fatty, impregnated then deeply the flesh; it was said the fish was "monamona", which means as delicious as an oozing sugar delicacy". Will you find these old recipes very "monamona ?)

KAORI (huge used at a time when kanaks constructed boats

KAVA (beverage made of plant which originate from Vanuatu (dormer New Guinea). Fame for getting you cool or more. Not very good or nearly awful, but in fashion ; sold now in cans but the question is : properties are they still effective ?

LA PEROUSE. (French sailor J. François de Galaup, who became fame while fighting English in the Hudson bay. Discovered both the northern American and Asian shores. Was sent to complete the work of Cook with two boats which set off from Brest on August 1, 1785, La Boussole and l'Astrolabe. They pass the cap Horn in February and after two stop over at Canary and Brazil, reach Sandwich island (Hawaii) the Marianne, Korea, Japan. At Samoa island, some sailors are killed. Reach Botany bay, near Sydney, and set off again, sailing to New Caledonia ; the vessels disappeared. They were identified only in February 1928 by Dumont Durville at Manikoro.

LAPICAUDA KATUALI. Sea snake (see below "tricot rayé" (stripe knitting)

MAGELLAN (Portuguese sailor who open the way to the great discovery to come in the ocean Pacific in 1521. Landed at Puka Puka with misfortune);

MANGROVE (English word from Malaysia : swampy area covered from trees growing near the shore or invaded ground by half the sea and the fresh water ; tree roots are muddled up and have the property to be able of filtering the salty water to get fresh water. Legends are numerous in such places because people can hardly penetrate.)

MARAAMU (POLYNESIA ; refreshing wind form the south which blows at the time of the southern winter).

MARAE (Polynesia : see on top );

MONOI(coconut oil perfumed with various fragrances of which the tiare (flower) is well known. Polynesian spread this oil on their body to protect them from the sun the day and mosquitoes at night.);

MOTU (Polynesia : little coral island).

NIAOULI (typical tree of New Caledonia, has a great vivacity and is quite fire resistant due to its numerous layers of white peal which protect it against the heat ; so it can revive after. Has invaded nearly all the west coast up to 500 meters high. this tree produce the gomenol (oil, perfume, alcohol).

NOCTILUQUE; micro-organisms (protozoon); globulous 1 mm diameter whipped alga provided with an appendix, which emit a luminescence at certain periods in the movements of water (undertow for example, bars in Africa). At the edge of islets, one reveals thousands of luminous points when one stirs up the water with the foot, at the edge of the beach at night).

NONO Black NONO or white nono, not to confuse with nao nao, that means mosquito in Polynesian ; the nono is a tiny midge which is not carrying any pathogenic agent for the man. It sucks blood (man and warm-blooded animals). Its size, up to 3 mm for the black and 1,5 mm max for the white, makes it practically invisible. In the infested areas where they pullulate, they can daily inflict several thousands of punctures to the same individual, which causes severe reactions to him (itchings being able to be accompanied by fever). The black nono of the rivers are localised in two islands of the Marchionesses, Nuku Hiva and Eiao where they pullulate. The white nono of the beaches, the marshes and the banana plantations are indexed in Polynesia. Pledged on the beaches (sand), they are largely distributed in the tropical and moderated areas hot of the sphere. Diurnal activity. To know some more, see : Institute Malardé

PANDANUS (Tree growing near the shore and very useful for its leaves which are plaited to make hats, bags, hut roofing, panelling. Is challenged by plaited palms from the coconut tree ; its roots are typical ;

PAREU (paréo : in former time, was made of tree fibbers crushed and spread for drying named "TAPA", but the imported cotton had much more advantage and replace it quickly).

PASSE > (Channel open in the coral barrier which allows the water to flow in and out. Be careful at the stream which can be very dangerous ; a few of them can be used by big boats).

PETROGLYPHES (stones engraved of geometrical drawings. As there is no organic material, datation is impossible. They would come from a mysterious because unknown civilisation, may be the first inhabitants)

PILON (PESTLE) (implement used in former time by Polynesians people. Are nowadays highly appreciated by tourists they have also a T handle)

PILOU PILOU ; melanesian feast organised on the occasion of a great event like the death of an important chief, the nowadays season and so on);

RAW FISH  see "IA OTA" ;

(New Caledonia : baggy and traditional colourful dress still "in fashion" for the popinées (Kanak women) imposed by the English missionary because naked body were shocking ; it could have been the same by the French ! humour : Now kanak ban topless bath suit because we told us it was incorrect !! it is true, isn't it ?) ;

ROUSSETTE (FLYING FOX) (big bat called flying fox; it eats nearly only fruits and flowers; common in the whole Pacific islands. Very appreciated by Caledonian in a plate ; strong wild taste but good);

TENUE COCOTIER ( coconut outfit ; means that going to a party, meeting.. men can get dressed with a short leaves shirt and light trousers and women matched with ).

Tifaifai (Polynesia : beautiful covers for beds made of patchwork) ;

TRIBE (TRIBU in French) (New Caledonia : kanak property stacked by the French government in order to allow areas at tribes kicked away from their territory at a time when the French took possession of the country ;

TAPA (made of bark (or fibbers) tree crushed to paste, spread onto a flat surface to be dried in open air. Used for making clothes, artefacts, wall adornments ;

TINITO (nickname for the Chinese in Polynesia);

(sripe knitting)  (striped and small sea snake (it's not the Lochness monster !!). You can see some of them in the water near the reef or on the sand of an islet, warming up in the sun) ; its bite is venomous but they have a such little mouth that they can bite you. Be careful by the way to the children and don't tickle them. But you can walk very close without fear).

UKULELE (sort of banjo. Its origin would go back to the Portuguese peoples. Those of Tahiti are different from those of Hawaii (box in coconut)/

URU (fruit from the bread tree. gives a food a bit chalky like for the ignames and others but acceptable for us, Europeans, added with chicken and gravy. The tree is used for the bark (tapa) and the sap for making glue. The bread tree was one of the most important tree for Polynesians).

WALLIS Samuel (English sailor ; discover Tahiti on June 17, 1767 but natives attack the boat (the Dolphin) and they are shelled by cannons ; made allegiance a week later).

ZOREILLE (nickname for French from the France).

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