Pei bilong sosopen: An article from Lae Garamut, 1948
Another of the postwar education department newsletters in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea was Lae Garamut. It published mainly announcements and instructions from local colonial officials in Pidgin, but like Rabaul News and others, aspired to be a newspaper for indigenous people, and invited readers to submit their own articles. In 1948, the editors published an item which they said “came straight from the Salamaua people,” advertising (if you will) the prices of clay pots that they produced for trade. It is in fact a bit more than that. It describes specific rates of exchange between pandanus nuts and clay pots, denominated in money. It also announces that some pots now can only be bought with money. In language that will be familiar to readers of Harding’s Voyagers of the Vitiaz Straits (1967), it goes on to describe the difficult “work of pots” to justify these terms, and pledges the makers’ continued support for their trade partners. Below is a transcript, including a preface by the paper’s editors. The translation is my own and is no doubt imperfect, and may be incorrect. I welcome any corrections or suggestions for improvement.
Pei bilong sosopen
Transcribed by Ryan Schram, July 23, 2016
Source: Lae Garamut, vol. 2, no. 23, p. 4 (28 August 1948). Held at the National Library of Australia.
Note: Text is split into phrases based on punctuation but otherwise as it appears on the page. Text in square brackets followed by a question mark indicates conjecture.
Dispela toktok baimbai yupela lukim i kamap aninit hia i no bilong Gavman.
This message that appears below here is not from the Government.
Dispela toktok i bilong ol pipal bilong Salamaua sitaret na oli sendim i kam long mipela baimbai mipela putim daon long dispela niuspepa, baimbai yupela ken lukim pei bilong ol samting bilong ol.
This message comes directly from the Salamaua people. They sent it to us, and we put it in this newspaper so that you can see the prices of their things.
Orait nau yupela lukim:-
So here it is [So, now you all take a look]:-
Pei bilong sosopen
Prices of pots
Nau mipela ol man bilong Salamaua, mipela laik putim daon pei bilong ol samting bilong mipela long dispela niuspepa baimbai yupela olgeta yupela ken lukim.
We the people of Salamaua would like to put down the prices of our things in this newspaper so that all of you will see them.
Dispela toktok mipela laik baimbai yupela ol pipal bilong ol peles igo nap long Markham River na Finschhafen.
We would like this message [to go?] to all of you people in villages [up to?] Markham River and Finschhafen.
Nau yupela lukim pei bilong ol dispela samting baimbai yupela ken save sitaret.
Now you all see the prices for all these things and then you all will [get it right?].
Orait pei bilongen i olsem:
So, prices for them are like this:
Sapos yu lukim sosopen bilong 4/- orait yu givim long 2 pela bigpela karuka bilong 4/-.
If you see a pot for 4/-, then you [pay with?] two big pandanus of 4/-.
Sapos sosopen bilong 2/- orait yu givim long karuka bilong 2/-.
If a pot for 2/-, then you [pay with?] a pandanus of 2/-.
Long onem yupela save oltem yupela biringim karuka tasol na kesim sosopen,
The reason is you all always just bring pandanus and get pots.
tasol yupela no save long pei bilong ol dispela samting.
So, you all don’t know the price of these things.
Olsem na mipela putim bilong ol sosopen nau baimbai yupela lukim.
And so, we put them for the pots so that you all can see them.
Sapos sosopen bilong 5/- olsem L1 orait yu mast pei sitaret long moni.
If a pot is 5/-, or L1, then you must pay directly with money.
I nogud olsem yu laik givim gen karuka bilong 5/- na L1 na kesim sosopen.
It is not good that you should give pandanus for 5/- and L1 and get a pot.
Yu save wok bilong sosopen ino olsem wok bilong karuka –
You know that the work of a pot is not like the work of pandanus –
Sosopen i moa had wok long Karuka, olsem na yu mast pei sitaret ol bigpela sosopen long moni turu.
Pots are harder work than pandanus, so you must pay directly for big pots with real money.
Work bilong sosopen i olsem:-
The work of pots is like this:-
Pastem turu oli mast pikim giraon na oli kesim insaid bilongen turu.
The very first thing, they must [dig?] the ground and they get really deep.
Bihain oli biringim ikam long peles na wok bilong ol meri nau i kamap.
After that, they bring it to the village and the work of women now begins.
Ol meri oli kukim dispela giraon long bigpela faia moa – oli kukim dispela giraon inap igo sitarong turu.
The women bake the earth in a really big fire – They bake this earth so that it becomes really strong.
Dispela wok ino isi, i had wok tumas.
This work isn’t easy. It’s really hard work.
Palanti dei i lus pinis orait sosopen nau i pinis inap man i ken nau kukim kaikai longen.
Many days pass, and then the pot is now finished [and?] a man can cook food in it.
Mipela mekim dispela long onem, yupela i putim daon pinis palanti samting bilong yupela –
We say this because you all have put down many things of yours –
orait mipela lukim olsem orait mipela Salamaua tu mipela bihainim yupela.
So we see this and so we Salamaua people, we support you all.
Em tasol toktok bilong mipela. Mipela olgeta bilong Salamaua.
Our message is finished. We all the people of Salamaua.
Harding, Thomas G. 1967. Voyagers of the Vitiaz Strait: A Study of a New Guinea Trade System. Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press.