This post is based on Practical Marshallese by Peter Rudiak-Gould, a freely distributed, full-length textbook for learning the native language of the Marshall Islands. It has been used since 2004 as the official language manual for all volunteers in the WorldTeach Marshall Islands program, and it has formed the basis of language classes for Americans at Kwajalein Atoll. The 102 short lessons describe the grammar of the language in practical and familiar terms, and a glossary presents 1500 useful words.


Have you fished? Have you ever fished?

– Similar to the last two lessons, in Marshallese all of the following are said in the same way:

  • Are you finished eating?
  • Have you eaten?
  • Did you already eat?
  • Have you already eaten?

Just add ‘ke’ after ‘eṃōj’ in the phrases you learned in Lesson 32:

Eṃōj ke aṃ ṃōñā             = it-finished/?/ your(sing.)/eat = Are you(sing.) finished eating? or Have you(sing.) eaten?
Eṃōj ke an ṃōñā              = it-finished/?/ his,her,its/eat = Is he/she/it finished eating? or Has he/she/it eaten?
Eṃōj ke an Colleen ṃōñā = it-finished/?/ her/Colleen/eat = Is Colleen finished eating? or Has Colleen eaten?

etc.

– There is another phrase which means ‘Have you ____?’ or ‘Have you ever ____?’, but not ‘Are you finished ____?’:

Kwōnañin ke ____? Have you ____?       or  Have you ever _____?
Enañin ke ____? Has he/she/it ____?  or  Has he/she/it ever ____?
Renañin ke ____? Have they ____?      or   Have they ever ____?

etc.

– To answer any of these questions, use what you learned in the previous two sections:

Question Meaning Possible answers Meaning
Eṃōj ke aṃ ṃōñā? Are you finished eating? or Have you eaten? Aet, eṃōj aō ṃōñā Jaab, ejañin ṃōj aō ṃōñā Jaab, ij jañin ṃōñā Yes, I am finished eating No, I am not finished yet No, I haven’t eaten
Kwōnañin ke eọñōd? Have you ever fished? Aet, eṃōj aō eọñōd Jaab, ejañin ṃōj aō eọñōd Jaab, ij jañin eọñōd Yes, I have fished No, I have never fished No, I have never fished

– You can also just answer with ‘eṃōj,’ ‘ejañin,’ or ‘ij jañin’:

Question Meaning Possible answers Meaning
Eṃōj ke aṃ ṃōñā? Are you finished eating? or Have you eaten? Eṃōj Ejañin Ij jañin Yes (I am finished eating) No (I am not finished yet) No (I haven’t eaten)
Kwōnañin ke eọñōd? Have you ever fished? Eṃōj Ejañin ṃōj Ij jañin Yes (I have fished) No (I have never fished) No (I have never fished)

Dialogues

A: Kwōnañin ke pād ilo Amedka? A: Have you ever been to America?
B: Ij jañin pād ilo Amedka, ak eṃōj aō pād ilo Ebeye. B: I’ve never been to America, but I’ve been to Ebeye.
A: Eṃōj ke aṃ pād ilo outer island? A: Have you been on the outer islands?
B: Eṃōj.  Eṃōj aō jaṃbo ñan Arno. B: Yes.  I’ve taken a trip to Arno.
A: Kwaar ke tutu iar im alwōj wōd ko? A: Did you swim in the lagoon and look at the coral?
B: Iaar jab, kōnke imijak pako. B: I didn’t, because I’m afraid of sharks.
A: Eṃōj ke aṃ jerbal? A: Are you finished working?
B: Ejañin ṃōj. B: Not yet.
A: Kwōj ta? A: What are you doing?
B: Ña ij koṃṃane juon ekkatak ñan ilju. B: I’m making a lesson for tomorrow.
A: Ekwe.  Ne eṃōj, jenij kakkije im bwebwenato ippān doon. A: Okay.  When you’re done, we’ll relax and chat together.

Vocabulary

le informal word used at the end of a sentence when talking to a woman or girl Ex. Kwōj etal ñan ia le? = Where are you going, girl?
ḷe informal word used at the end of a sentence when talking to a man or boy Ex. Kwōj etal ñan ia ḷe? = Where are you going, man?
liṃa informal word used at the end of a sentence when talking to more than one woman or girl Ex. Iọkwe liṃa = Hi girls
ḷōṃa informal word used at the end of a sentence when talking to more than one man or boy Ex. Iọkwe ḷōṃa = Hi guys
peet (from English) bed
tiṃōṇ demon
ṃane hit, spank, kill
wūt flower, flower headdress
wōjke tree
bwiro preserved breadfruit (a common food)

Language Tip

le, ḷe, liṃa, and ḷōṃa

In the vocabulary above you saw the words ‘le,’ ‘ḷe,’ ‘liṃa,’ ‘ḷōṃa.’  These are used between people who are on friendly and informal terms with each other.  Use them in these circumstances and you will sound very Marshallese.  Use them in the wrong circumstances and the worst that is likely to happen is that people will laugh at you.

Published by Marco Mora-Huizar

I am a Spanish and Marshallese translator. Iaar katak Kajin Majol ilo Enid, Oklahoma. marcomh.com

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