Lesson 31: Not yet and never

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.

Not yet and never

– Marshallese has a word ‘jañin’ (or ‘jāñin’) that means ‘not yet.’  It goes before the verb or adjective:

Eṃōj              = it-finished = It is finished
Ejañin ṃōj      = it-not yet/finished = It isn’t finished yet
Ij eọñōd          = I-PRES/fish = I am fishing
Ij jañin eọñōd = I-PRES/not yet/fish = I haven’t fished yet

– This leads to a very common phrase meaning ‘It hasn’t been decided yet,’ ‘We’re not sure yet,’ ‘I’m not sure yet’:

Ejañin alikkar  = it-not yet/clear = It hasn’t been decided yet or I’m/we’re not sure yet

For instance, if someone asks you when you are going back to America, and you have decided yet, say ‘ejañin alikkar.’

– ‘Jañin’ can also mean ‘never,’ but only in certain circumstances.  To see how to use ‘jañin’ as ‘never,’ and other ways to say ‘never,’ look at the following examples:

Iaar jañin eọñōd         = I-PAST/not yet/fish = I hadn’t fished yet or I never fished
Ij jañin eọñōd             = I-PRES/not yet/fish = I haven’t fished yet or I have never fished
Iban eọñōd                 = I-will not/fish = I will not fish or I will never fish
Aolep iien ij jab eọñōd = all/time/I-PRES/not/fish = Always I don’t fish = I never fish

–  With adjectives, you can also use ‘jaje’ or ‘ñak’ (‘don’t know’) to mean ‘never’:

Ijaje mijak = I-don’t know/afraid = I don’t know how to be afraid = I am never afraid
Eñak ṃōk = She-don’t know/tired = She doesn’t know how to be tired = She is never tired

As you can see, there is no general word for ‘never,’ but with the phrases above you can express ‘never’ in many ways.

Vocabulary

pinana (from English) banana
kain rot or kain rōt (E: kain tor) what kind?
tonaaj (from English) donut
jañ to cry, make a noise, be played on the radio
kōrkōr small outrigger canoe, paddled or with a sail
tipñōl larger outrigger canoe, with a sail
luuj (from English) lose
wiin (from English) win
māj eye, face, mask, snorkeling mask, glasses
tūrak (from English) truck, car

Pronunciation Practice

The two e’s

The letter ‘e’ in Marshallese actually stands for two different sounds.  To hear the difference between these sounds, have a Marshallese person say these words:

ne ‘leg’ āne ‘island’

Notice that the first ‘e’ sounds like the ‘ai’ in English ‘bait,’ but the ‘e’ in ‘āne’ sounds halfway in between ‘ai’ in English ‘bait’ and ‘ea’ in English ‘beat.’  In the Marshallese-English Dictionary, the second kind of ‘e’ is indicated in the phonetic transcription of a word by an ‘e’ with a hook under it, and the first kind of ‘e’ is indicated by an ‘e’ with no hook.

If you want to perfectly pronounce the kind of ‘e’ that is in ‘āne,’ start by pronouncing the ‘ai’ in English ‘bait,’ and then slowly turn it into the ‘ea’ in English ‘beat.’  If you stop halfway in between, you have the Marshallese ‘e’ in ‘āne.’  (Sometimes it is halfway between ‘bet’ and ‘bit’ instead.)  However, this sound is very close to the ‘ea’ in ‘beat’ or the ‘i’ in ‘bit’ so you can pronounce it that way as well.

Here are some common words with ‘e’ sorted by which sound it stands for:

Bait or Bet   Bait/Beat or Bet/Bit   Bait or Bet   Bait/Beat or Bet/Bit  
ne ‘leg’ āne ‘island’ meḷeḷe ‘understand’ pen ‘hard’
etal ‘go’ ek ‘fish’ jete ‘how many’ jokwe ‘live’
etke ‘why’ eṃ ‘house’ bwebwe ‘tuna’ bwebwe ‘stupid’
lale ‘look’ armej ‘person’     jaje ‘don’t know
men ‘thing’ mejki ‘sleepy’     eddeb ‘to husk’
jeḷā ‘know’ mej ‘dead’    

Practical Marshallese

Lesson 30: Do you have?

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.

Do you have?  How many do you have?

– To make questions with ‘have’ (like ‘do you have a pencil?’ or ‘does she have any sisters?’) just add ‘ke’ after ‘ewōr’ or ‘elōñ’:

Ewōr ke aṃ ___?               = or Elōñ ke aṃ ___? there is/?/your/___           = Do you have a ____?
Ewōr ke an   ___?              = or Elōñ ke an ___? there is/?/his,her,its/___ = Does he/she/it have a ___?
Ewōr ke an Emily ____?   = or Elōñ ke an Emily ____? there is/?/her/Emily/___ = Does Emily have a ____?

etc.

– You can do the same thing with ‘ebwe,’ ‘ebooḷ,’ ‘emaat,’ etc.

Ebooḷ ke aṃ brother?       = there are many/?/your/brother = Do you have many brothers?
Ebwe ke aer pinjeḷ?          = there is enough/?/their/pencil = Do they have enough pencils?
Emaat ke an Emily peen? = there is no more/?/’s/Emily/pen = Does Emily have no more pens? or Does Emily have any pens left?

– To answer a question like ‘Ewōr ke aṃ pinjeḷ?’ (‘Do you have a pencil?’) you can respond in full ‘Aet, ewōr aō pinjeḷ’ (‘Yes, I have a pencil’) or ‘Jaab, ejjeḷọk aō pinjeḷ’ (‘No, I don’t have a pencil’).  However, you can also just say ‘Ewōr’/‘Elōñ’ (‘Yes I do’) or ‘Ejjeḷọk’ (‘No I don’t’).

– To ask ‘How many ___ do you have?’, use ‘jete’ at the beginning of the sentence:

Jete aṃ sister? = how many/your/sister = How many sisters do you have?
Jete aer pinjeḷ? = how many/their/pencil = How many pencils do you have?

– This also allows you to say ‘How old are you?’:

Jete aṃ iiō?                 = how many/your/year = How old are you?
Jilñoul aō iiō                 = thirty/my/year = I’m thirty years old
Jete an Tamlino iiō ?   = how many/his/Tamlino/year = How old is Tamlino?
Jiljino an Tamlino iiō    = six/his/Tamlino/year = Tamlino is six years old

Dialogue

A: Ewōr ke aṃ brother? A: Do you have any brothers?
B: Juon aō brother. B: I have one brother.
A: Ak sister?  Jete aṃ sister? A: What about sisters?  How many sisters do you have?
B: Ejjeḷọk aō sister. B: I don’t have any sisters.
A: Warrar.  Eiiet aṃ brother im sister.  Jete an brother eo aṃ iiō? A: Wow.  You don’t have very many brothers and sisters.  How old is your brother?
B: Roñoul ralitōk an iiō kiiō. B: He is 28 now.
A: Ak kwe?  Jete aṃ iiō? A: What about you?  How old are you?
B: Roñoul jilu aō iiō. B: I’m twenty-three years old.
A: Ekōḷōk!  Kwōlukkuun dik. A: Wow!  You’re really young.

Vocabulary

waḷọk happen, occur, appear, rise (of the sun or the moon)
tulọk to dive, to dive down, to set (of the sun)
jipeeḷ (from English) spell, spelling
uno medicine, paint
bwe so-so Ex. Eṃṃan mour?  Ebwe = How’s it going?  So-so.
naip (from English) knife
kiil or kiili to close, to memorize
kilōk closed, memorized Ex. Ekilōk = It is closed
aḷ sun
ettoḷọk (E: sometimes tōtoḷọk) far away

Practical Marshallese

Lesson 29: I have one, I have two, I have many

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.

I have one, I have two, I have many

In the last two lessons you learned how to say ‘I have a ___,’ ‘you have a ___.’  In this lesson you will learn how to say ‘I have one ___,’ ‘I have two ___,’ ‘I have many ___.’

– In order to say ‘I have many___,’ ‘I have few___,’ ‘I have some ___,’ etc., use the words for ‘there are many,’ ‘there are few,’ ‘there are some’ that you learned in Lesson 26.  For instance, instead of saying ‘I have many ___,’ say ‘there are many my ___.’  For example:

Ebooḷ aō sister                 = there are many/my/sister = I have many sisters
Eiiet aō brother                = there are few/my/brother = I have few brothers
Ewōr jet aṃ sister            = there are/some/your/sister = You have a few sisters
Ebwe an Rostiana pinjeḷ  = there are enough/’s/Rostiana/pencil = Rostiana has enough pencils
Emaat ad pinjeḷ                = there are no more/our/pencil = We have no more pencils or We are out of pencils

– There is another way to say ‘I have many ___.’  Instead of saying ‘there is many my ___’ (‘ebooḷ aō ___’), you can just say ‘many my ___’ (‘bwijin aō ___’).  For instance:

Bwijin aō pinjeḷ     = many/my/pencil =  I have many pencils
Bwijin aṃ brother = many/your/brother =  You have many brothers

– To say ‘I have one ___,’ ‘I have two ____,’ etc., you can say ‘there is one my ____’ (‘ewōr juon aō ___’) or just say ‘one my ___’ (‘juon aō ___’):

Ewōr ruo aō sister       = or Ruo aō sister           = there are/two/my/sister two/my/sister =  I have two sisters
Ewōr joñoul aṃ pinjeḷ  = or Joñoul aṃ pinjeḷ      = there are/ten/your/pencil ten/your/pencil =  You have ten pencils

– To say any of these phrases in the past or future, add ‘kar’ or ‘naaj’:

Enaaj booḷ aō sister = it-FUTURE/there are many/my/pencil = I will have many sisters
Ekar jabwe ad jāān  = it-PAST/there is not enough/our/money = We didn’t have enough money
Naaj ruo aṃ brother = FUTURE/two/your/brother = You will have two brothers
Kar bwijin aō pinjeḷ   = PAST/many/my/pencil = I had many pencils

Vocabulary

kweilọk meeting, to have a meeting, to attend a meeting
libbukwe shell (as in, the shells you find on the beach, not the shell of an egg)
ruuḷ (from English) rule
nabōj outside
nabōjin outside of
ettōñ (E: tōtōñ) laugh, smile
rup break, broken
tūṃ to break, broken (of long, thin objects like string, grass, etc.)
tebōḷ (from English) table, desk
tōñal sweet
turọñ spearfish, go spearfishing

Language Tip

Things they just don’t say, and things they love to say

Learning how to express ideas in Marshallese is just one part of learning the language.  Another important part is learning which ideas to express.  Anything in English can be translated into Marshallese and vice-versa, but that doesn’t mean that people say the same things in both languages.  For instance, if someone is telling you something in English, you would commonly say ‘that’s interesting.’  In Marshallese, even though there is a word for ‘interesting’ (‘kāitoktok-limo’), you would rarely say ‘that’s interesting.’  Instead you might say ‘ooo’ (‘oh’).  In the same way, in Marshallese if something has not been successful yet, you will often say ‘mōttan jidik’ (‘soon’).  In English, even though we have the word ‘soon,’ we would rarely say it in this context.  So, instead of looking for exact Marshallese equivalents of common English phrases (or vice-versa), listen to what Marshallese people commonly say in different situations, and imitate them.  You will sound much more Marshallese if you do this.

For example, here are some very common English phrases that could be said in Marshallese, but rarely are.  You should avoid trying to say these in Marshallese, even if we would say them in English:

Nice to meet you That makes sense Probably not I wonder if…
That’s interesting That doesn’t make sense I think so  
That’s strange Probably I don’t think so  

And here are some very common Marshallese phrases that could be said in English, but rarely are.  You should say these often, even if we wouldn’t say them in English:

Eṃṃan ‘good,’ ‘fine,’ ‘okay then,’ ‘good idea,’ ‘I approve’
Enana ‘bad,’ ‘I don’t like it,’ ‘that’s a bad idea,’ ‘I don’t approve of it’
Eṃōj ‘it’s finished,’ ‘I already did it,’ ‘stop!’ ‘that’s enough’
Ejañin alikkar ‘it’s not clear yet, we haven’t decided yet, I don’t know yet’
Ṃōttan jidik ‘soon, almost, you’ve almost got it’

Practical Marshallese

Lesson 28: I have a pencil with me

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.

I have a pencil with me, You have a book with you

In the last lesson you learned how to say ‘I have,’ ‘you have’ etc.  There is another way to say these kinds of sentences.  If you mean ‘I have a ___ with me’ or ‘I am carrying a ____’ (as opposed to ‘I own a ___’ or ‘There is a ___ that belongs to me’), then you use the word for ‘with me,’ ‘with you,’ etc. instead of the word for ‘my,’ ‘your,’ etc.  Instead of saying ‘there is my pencil’ you would say ‘there is pencil with me’:

‘Have’

Ewōr __ ippa    or Elōñ __ ippa      = there is/__/with me/              = I have a __
Ewōr __ ippaṃ or Elōñ __ ippaṃ   = there is/__/with you(sing.)  = You (sing.) have a __
Ewōr __ ippān  or Elōñ __ ippān    = there is/__/with him,her,it    = He, She, or It has a __
Ewōr __ ippān Marcy                     = or Elōñ __ ippān Marcy there is/__/with/Marcy   = Marcy has a __
Ewōr __ ippād   or Elōñ __ ippād   = there is/__/with us(incl.)    = We (incl.) have a __
Ewōr __ ippām  or Elōñ __ ippām  = there is/__/with us(excl.)     = We (excl.) have a __
Ewōr __ ippāmi or Elōñ __ ippāmi  = there is/__/with you(plur.)   = You (plur.) have a __
Ewōr __ ippāer  or Elōñ __ ippāer  = there is/__/with/them              = They have a __

‘Don’t Have’

Ejjeḷọk __ ippa      = there is no/__/with me/              = I don’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk __ ippaṃ   =   there is no/__/with you(sing.)  = You (singular) don’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk __ ippān    = there is no/__/with him,her,it    = He, She, or It doesn’t have a__
Ejjeḷọk __              = ippān Marcy there is no/__/with/Marcy   = Marcy doesn’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk __ ippād    = there is no/___/with us(incl.)    = We (inclusive) don’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk __ ippām   = there is no/__/with us(excl.)     = We (exclusive) don’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk __ ippāmi  = there is no/__/with you(plur.)   = You (plural) don’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk __ ippāer   = there is no/__/with/them              = They don’t have a __

– If you are talking about who has a specific thing at the moment (like when someone asks you ‘Who has the book?’ and you answer ‘I have the book’ or ‘You have it’) then you say ‘The book is with me,’ or ‘It is with you’:

Bok eo epād ippān = wōn? book/the/it-located/with/who = Who is the book with? = Who has the book?
Bok eo epād ippa   = book/the/it-located/with me   = The book is with me = I have the book
Epād ippaṃ            = it-located/with you                 = It is with you = You have it

Dialogue

A: Kwōj ta? A: What are you doing?
B: Ña ij pukot ki ko aō.  Rejako. B: I’m looking for my keys.  They’re gone.
A: Rejab pād ippaṃ? A: You don’t have them with you?
B: Aet, rejab pād ippa. B: That’s right, I don’t have them with me.
A: Erri? A: Where are they?
B: Iñak.  Bōlen repād ippān Peter. B: I don’t know.  Maybe Peter has them.
A: Etke repād ippān? A: Why does he have them?
B: Kōnke aolep iien ej kọọt men ko aō. B: Because he’s always stealing my things.

Vocabulary

kāḷọk to fly, to jump, to jump out of a boat into the water
eo here you go (said when giving something to someone)
baankek pancake
jinoe start, start it
jinoin beginning, beginning of
kakkije rest, relax, take a break, recess, go to recess
keemem traditional party held on an infant’s first birthday, to attend or put on such a party, birthday party
menninmour animal
kōto wind
ekkōtoto (E: sometimes kōkōtoto) windy

Practical Marshallese

Lesson 27: I have, you have, I don’t have, you don’t have

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.

I have, you have, I don’t have, you don’t have

– The way to say ‘I have,’ ‘you have,’ etc. in Marshallese is very different from English.  There is no word for ‘have.’  Instead of saying ‘I have a pencil,’ you say ‘there is my pencil.’  Instead of saying ‘I don’t have a pencil’ you say ‘there is no my pencil.’  Use the words from Lesson 26 for ‘there is’ (‘ewōr’ or ‘elōñ’) and ‘there is no’ (‘ejjeḷọk’):

‘Have’

Ewōr aō  __   or Elōñ aō __    = there is/my/__              = I have a ____
Ewōr aṃ __   or Elōñ aṃ __   = there is/your(sing.)/__ = You (singular) have a ____
Ewōr an  __   or Elōñ an __    = there is/his,her,its/__   = He, She, or It has a ____
Ewōr an Marcy __                  = or Elōñ an Marcy__ there is/her/Marcy/__  = Marcy has a ____
Ewōr ad  __   or Elōñ ad __     = there is/our(incl.)/__    = We (inclusive) have a ____
Ewōr am  __  or Elōñ am __    = there is/our(excl.)/__    = We (exclusive) have a ____
Ewōr ami __  or Elōñ ami __   = there is/your(plur.)/__  = You (plural) have a ____
Ewōr aer __   or Elōñ aer __   = there is/their/__            = They have a _____

‘Don’t Have’

Ejjeḷọk aō __              = there is no/my/__               = I don’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk aṃ __             =   there is no/your(sing.)/__   = You (singular) don’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk an __              = there is no/his,her,its/__     = He, She, or It doesn’t have a__
Ejjeḷọk an Marcy __   = there is no/her/Marcy/__    = Marcy doesn’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk ad __              = there is no/our(incl.)/__      = We (inclusive) don’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk am __             = there is no/our(excl.)/__      = We (exclusive) don’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk ami __            = there is no/your(plur.)/__    = You (plural) don’t have a __
Ejjeḷọk aer __             = there is no/their/__               = They don’t have a __

– To say ‘I will have a ___’ use ‘enaaj wōr/lōñ’ instead of ‘ewōr/elōñ.’  To say ‘I had a ___’ use ‘eaar wōr/lōñ’ or ‘ekar wōr/lōñ’ instead of ‘ewōr/elōñ.’  To say ‘I won’t have a ___’ use ‘enaaj ejjeḷọk’ instead of ‘ejjeḷọk’  To say ‘I didn’t have a ___’ use ‘eaar ejjeḷọk’ or ‘ekar ejjeḷọk’ instead of ‘ejjeḷọk.’

– You might notice that people say ‘I have,’ ‘You have,’ ‘Do you have?’ etc. in different ways when they are talking about food, drinks, vehicles, and many other things.  If you want to know about this now, look at Lessons 66-80.

Vocabulary

likatu beautiful woman, beautiful (of women only)
ḷakatu good-looking man, good-looking (of men only)
ijin here
ijo there, over there
ijōṇe there (near you)
ijjuweo there (far away)
ie there (in the sense of, ‘the place we are talking about’) ex. A: Iaar etal ñan Mejit  = I went to Mejit       B: Kwaar ta ie?           = What did you do there?
āinwōt juon the same, never mind, it doesn’t matter
baru crab
jako gone, missing, lost, disappeared
dān water, any liquid
dānnin ni coconut juice
wiiken (from English) weekend

Language Tip

Interjections

Marshallese has a variety of ‘interjections’ (like ‘wow!’, ‘darn!’ etc. in English).  Using them in the right situations, but not too liberally, will make you sound much more Marshallese.  Here are some of the most common ones and their meanings:

ōrrōr / ōrrōrōr / ōllōl / ōllōlōl / edded / eddeded = annoyance, frustration

ōrōr = ‘oops’

ūkūk = annoyance

alo / aluo = telling someone that what they’re doing is annoying and unacceptable

warrar / warrarar = when you are surprised and impressed

ekōḷōk / wau (from English) = amazement, ‘wow’

āāāāā (like the ‘a’ in ‘pat,’ but harsh and nasal) = getting the attention of a child in order to scold him or her

io = surprise when something sudden and unexpected happens

sssss = shooing away animals

ooooo = ‘oh,’ ‘I see,’ ‘that’s interesting’ (when someone tells you something)

ooo, iōp! = giving the signal for everyone to start something at the same time

Practical Marshallese

Lesson 26: There is, there are, there are many

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.

There is, there are, there are many

– To say a sentence like ‘there are sharks or ‘there is a lot of breadfruit’ in Marshallese, you use the equivalent of the phrases ‘there is,’ ‘there are,’ ‘there are many,’ etc. in English.  As in English, they go at the beginning of the sentence:

ewōr[2] there is, there are
ewōr juon there is one
ewōr ruo/jilu/emān/ there are two/three/four/…
ewōr jet there are some, there are a few
ejjeḷọk there is no, there are no, there is none, there are none
elōñ there is, there are (occasionally means: there are many)
elukkuun lōñ there are many
ebooḷ there are many
eiiet there are few
eḷap there is a lot
edik there is not very much
ebwe there is enough, there are enough
ejabwe there is not enough, there are not enough
emaat there is no more, there is none left

For example:

Ejjeḷọk mā ilo Amedka = there is no/breadfruit/in/America = There is no breadfruit in America
Ewōr armej ilo Bikini    = there are/people/in/Bikini = There are people on Bikini
Emaat ni                      = there are no more/coconut = There are no coconuts left

– To make a question like ‘Are there ___?’, ‘Is there___?’ add the question marker ‘ke’:

Ewōr ke bōb?  = there is/?/pandanus = Is there any pandanus?
Elōñ ke ek?      = there is/?/fish = Are there any fish?
Ebwe ke raij?   = there is enough/?/rice = Is there enough rice?
Emaat ke mā?  = there is no more/?/breadfruit = Is the breadfruit all gone? or Is there any breadfruit left?

– To make a sentence like ‘There will be ___’ ‘There was ___’ put the future or past tense marker after the ‘e’ in the word:

Enaaj wōr armej  = it-FUTURE/there are/people = There will be people
Eaar ejjeḷọk ni     = it-PAST/there are no/coconut = There were no coconuts
Ekar ḷap jāān       = it-PAST/there is a lot of/money = There was a lot of money

– When you want to put a word like this in the middle of a sentence (for instance, to say ‘I ate a lot of breadfruit’ or ‘I saw a few sharks’), the words are sometimes different:

jet some, a few
bwijin many
elōñ many[3]
ebooḷ many
jejjo few
eḷap a lot of
jidik a little

For example:

Iaar lo elōñ pako          = I-PAST/see/many/shark = I saw many sharks
Kwaar ṃōñā jidik mā   = you-PAST/ear/a little/breadfruit = You ate a little breadfruit

Dialogue

A: Ewōr ke ek ilo Amedka? A: Are there any fish in America?
B: Elōñ.  Elukkuun lōñ ek ilo lọjet in Amedka. B: Yes there are.  There are many fish in the oceans of America.
A: Ak pako?  Elōñ ke? A: What about sharks?  Are there any?
B: Eiiet pako. B: There aren’t very many sharks.
A: Ak mā? Ewōr ke mā ilo Amedka? A: What about breadfruit?  Is there any breadfruit in America?
B: Ejjeḷọk.  Ripālle rej jab ṃōñā mā. B: No, there is none.  Americans don’t eat breadfruit.
A: Ak bao? A: What about birds?
B: Ebooḷ bao ilo Amedka, āinwōt Ṃajeḷ. B: There are many birds in America, like the Marshall Islands.

Vocabulary

tallōñ to climb
ettoon (E: sometimes tōtoon) dirty, messy
erreo (E: sometimes rōreo) clean
karreo to clean, clean up
ettōr (E: tōtōr) to run
pija (from English) picture, drawing, photograph, to draw, to take a picture, to get one’s picture taken, camera
pileij (from English) plate
niñniñ baby
waini brown coconut (older than a green coconut), copra
wōtḷọk (E: buñḷọk) fall, fall down

Practical Marshallese

Lesson 25: I like, I don’t like

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.

I like, I don’t like

In the last lesson you learned the words for ‘with me,’ ‘with you,’ etc.  These words can also mean ‘in my opinion,’ ‘in your opinion,’ etc.  For instance:

Eaiboojoj ippa      = it-beautiful/with me  = It is beautiful in my opinion or I think it is beautiful
Ennọ ippān Dan   = it-tasty/with/Dan      = It is tasty in Dan’s opinion or Dan thinks it tastes good or It tastes good to Dan

– You can use this meaning with the words for ‘good’ (‘eṃṃan’)  and ‘bad’ (‘nana’) to make sentences like ‘I like it,’ ‘I don’t like it’:

Eṃṃan ippa        = it-good/with me          = It is good in my opinion or I like it
Enana raij ippāer = it-bad/rice/with them  = Rice is bad in their opinion or They don’t like rice

– To make it into a question (like ‘do you like rice?’) just use ‘ke’:

Eṃṃan ke ippaṃ?  = it-good/?/with you  = Is it good in your opinion? or Do you like it?
Eṃṃan ke eọñōd    = ippāer? it-good/?/fish/with them = Is fishing good in their opinion? or Do they like fishing?

– If you leave out the word for ‘with’ and just say ‘eṃṃan ke?’, it becomes a general way to say to ‘Do you like it?’ ‘How is it?’:

Eṃṃan ke?         = it-good/?           = Do you like it?       or How is it?
Eṃṃan ke Arno? = it-good/?Arno   = Do you like Arno? or How is Arno?

You can answer this with ‘eṃṃan’ (‘It’s good,’ ‘I like it’) or ‘enana’ (‘It’s bad,’ ‘I don’t like it’).

– If you put ‘eṃṃan ke?’ at the end of a sentence it means ‘okay?’:

Q: Ña itōn eọñōd,  = eṃṃan ke? me/I-NEAR FUTURE/going to/fish/, /it-good/?  = I’m going to fish, okay?
A: Eṃṃan it-good = Okay.
A: Enana it-bad = No, that’s not okay.

– ‘Kōṇaan’ is another way to say ‘to like,’ and ‘jab kōṇaan’ is another way to say ‘to not like.’  ‘Kōṇaan’ also means ‘to want,’ so it is a bit ambiguous:

Ikōṇaan eọñōd           = I-like,want/fish       = I like to fish or I want to fish
Ijab kōṇaan eọñōd     = I-not/like,want/fish = I don’t like to fish or I don’t want to fish
Kokōṇaan ke eọñōd? = You-like/?/fish?      = Do you like to fish? or Do you want to fish?

Dialogue

A: Eṃṃan ke Ṃajeḷ ippaṃ? A: Do you like the Marshall Islands?
B: Elukkuun eṃṃan ippa.  Aolep riṃajeḷ relukkuun jouj. B: I like it a lot.  All Marshallese people are very nice.
A: Ak ennọ ke ṃōñā in ṃajeḷ ippaṃ? A: But do you like Marshallese food?
B: Ennọ aolep kain ṃōñā in ṃajeḷ ippa: raij, ek, mā, bōb… B: I like all kinds of Marshallese food: rice, fish, breadfruit, pandanus…
A: Ak ennọ ke ṃōñā in ṃajeḷ ippān baamḷe eo aṃ ilo Amedka? A: Does your family in America like Marshallese food?
B: Ejab lukkuun ennọ ṃōñā in ṃajeḷ ippāer.  Ennọ ṃōñā in pālle ippāer.  Ak elukkuun aiboojoj Ṃajeḷ ippāer. B: They don’t like Marshallese food very much.  They like American food.  But they think the Marshall Islands is very beautiful.

Vocabulary

wailōj (from English ‘wireless’) talk on a short-wave radio, use a short-wave radio
dekā rock, stone, pebble, boulder, gravel
babu lie down
bait or ire to  fight
etetal to walk
iiep basket
jutak to stand up
kajutak to raise Ex. Kajutak peiṃ = Raise your hand
minit (from English) minute
pako shark

Practical Marshallese

Lesson 24: With

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.

With me, with you

– The word in Marshallese for ‘with’ is ‘ippān.’  However, it changes when you say ‘with me,’ ‘with you,’ etc.:

‘With’

ippa with me
ippaṃ with you (singular)
ippān with him or with her or with it
ippān Dan with Dan
ippān Greg im Brian with Greg and Brian
ippād with us (inclusive)
ippām with us (exclusive)
ippāmi with you (plural)
ippāer with them

(You might notice that these words bare a resemblance to ‘my,’ ‘your,’ etc. in the last lesson.  This is not a coincidence.  If you want to know why see Lessons 66-71).

– If you want to say ‘with’ in the sense of ‘using,’ like in the sentence ‘I hit the nail with the hammer’ (as opposed to the sense of ‘accompanied by,’ like in the sentence ‘I went to the lagoon with you’), then use ‘kōn’ for ‘with’ andkake’ for ‘with it.’  For example:

Iaar jeje kōn pinjeḷ eo   = (not Iaar jeje ippān pinjeḷ eo) I-PAST/write/with/pencil/the = I wrote with the pencil
Iaar jeje kake                = (not Iaar jeje ippān) I-PAST/write/with it              = I wrote with it

Vocabulary

ṃōkaj or eṃṃōkaj (E: ṃōkaj or ṃōṃkaj) fast, on time, early  
ṃōkaj ñan iien on time, on time to ___ Ex. Ṃōkaj ñan iien jikuuḷ = On time to school
nuknuk clothes
ruuṃ (from English) room, space
peen (from English) pen
pen hard (in both the physical sense and the sense of ‘difficult’)
pidodo easy, soft
pilawā (from English) flour, bread
pinjeḷ (from English) pencil
teeñki flashlight
wūnto (from English) window

Pronunciation Practice

The two ō’s

The letter ‘ō’ in Marshallese actually stands for two different sounds.  To hear the difference between these sounds, have a Marshallese person say these two words:

wōn ‘turtle’ wōn ‘who?’

Notice that the first ‘ō’ sounds close to the ‘oo’ in ‘book,’ but the second ‘ō’ sounds like the ‘u’ in ‘buck.’  In the Marshallese-English Dictionary, the first sound is indicated in the phonetic transcription of a word by an ‘e’ with a hook under it, and the second sound is indicated by an ‘e’ with no hook.  Here are some common words with ‘ō’ sorted by which sound it stands for:

Book   Buck   Book   Buck  
wōn ‘turtle’ wōn ‘who’ ṃōḷo ‘cold’ kiiō ‘now’
wōt ‘rain’ wōt ‘only’ kōto ‘wind’ kōṇaan ‘want’
ṃōj ‘finished’ elōñ ‘there is’ aebōj ‘water’ bōk ‘take’
bōd ‘wrong’ ewōr ‘there is’     ṃōṇōṇō ‘happy’
kōn ‘about’ ṃōñā ‘eat’     eọñōd ‘to fish’
kōnke ‘because’ kōṃṃan ‘do’     ḷōmṇak ‘think’
kwōle ‘hungry’ kōrā ‘woman’        

Practical Marshallese

Lesson 23: House of, time of, place of

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.

House of, time of, place of

– In Marshallese in order to say a phrase like ‘school time’ you would say instead ‘time of school’ (like in Spanish or French).  The word for ‘of’ is ‘in.’  For example:

awa in jikuuḷ                       = time/of/school = school time, time for school
menninmour in lọjet ____  = animal/of/ocean = sea animal
ḷaddik in ṃajeḷ                    = boy/of/Marshall = Marshallese boy

– Sometimes when you add ‘in’ to a noun, the word changes:

eṃ     + in   = ṃōn or iṃōn = house of
ṃanit + in   = ṃantin = custom of, culture of, manner of
iar     +  in   = arin = lagoon of

– On other words you don’t have to add ‘in’ in order to say ‘of’:

jikin    = place or place of
iien     = time or time of
kajin   = language or language of
kain    = kind or kind of

– These words lead to some common phrases:

ṃōn jikuuḷ         = house of/school = school house
ṃōn jar             = house of/pray = church
ṃōn tutu           = house of/take a shower = shower house
ṃōn kōppojak   = house of/get ready = outhouse, bathroom
ṃōn kuk            = house of/cook[1] = cook house
ṃōn wia            = house of/buy = store
ṃōn ṃōñā         = house of/eat = restaurant
ṃōn taktō          = house of/doctor = hospital, medical dispensary
ṃantin ṃajeḷ     = custom of/Marshall = Marshallese custom/culture
ṃantin pālle      = custom of/American = American custom/culture
jikin volleyball  = place of/volleyball = volleyball court
iien jikuuḷ           = time of/school = school time, time for school
kajin ṃajeḷ         = language of/Marshall = Marshallese (language)
kajin pālle          = language of/English = English (language)
kajin Jaina         = language of/China = Chinese (language)

– ‘In’ also has a few other meanings.  If you put it after a sentence it means ‘in order to’:

Iaar etal ñan iar  = in eọñōd I-PAST/go/to/lagoon/ of/fish = I went to the lagoon in order to fish

– If ‘in’ is before the word for ‘morning,’ ‘afternoon,’ ‘evening,’ or ‘night,’ it means ‘in’ or ‘at’:

in jibboñ =  in the morning in jota =  in the evening
in raelep =  in the afternoon in boñ =  at night

– You can put ‘in’ after some verbs, where it is meaningless like English ‘to,’ or after adjectives:

aikuj in ___ = need to ____
ṃakoko in ___ = refuse to ____, unwilling to ____
ṃōṇōṇō in ___ = glad to ____
ṃōk in ___ = tired of ____
jook in ___ = too shy to ____, too embarrassed to ____

Vocabulary

amiṃōno handicrafts, make handicrafts
alikkar clear, obvious
irooj chief, king
lerooj chieftess, queen
jorrāān or problem problem, have a problem, hurt, get hurt, not working, out of order Ex. Ejorrāān = It’s broken Ex. Ejjeḷọk jorrāān = No problem Ex. Kwōnaaj jorrāān = You’ll get hurt
kāāl new, fresh
ṃor old (of things only)
rūtto old (of people only), adult
kidu dog
kuuj cat

Practical Marshallese

Lesson 22: Possessives

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.

My, your, his, her (Possessives)

– In Marshallese there are words for ‘my,’ ‘your,’ ‘his,’ ‘her,’ etc.  These are called ‘possessives.’  Here they are:

my or mine
aṃ your or yours (when referring to only one person)
an his, her, hers, or its
an Jeremy Jeremy’s
an Anna im Natalie Anna and Natalie’s
ad our or ours (including the person being talked to)
am our or ours (not including the person being talked to)
ami your or yours (when referring to more than one person)
aer their or theirs

Things to notice:

1. Marshallese makes no distinction between ‘my’ vs. ‘mine,’ ‘your’ vs. ‘yours’ etc.  It has the same word for both.

2. ‘An’ by itself means ‘his/her/its,’ but if you put it before a name or noun, it is like ’s in English.  For example ‘an Luke’ = ‘Luke’s’

3. Like with all the pronouns, you must distinguish between singular ‘your’ (‘aṃ,’ referring to just one person) and plural ‘your’ (‘ami,’ referring to more than one person), and between inclusive ‘our’ (‘ad,’ including the person being talked to) and exclusive ‘our’ (‘am,’ not including the person being talked to).

4. As you listen to Marshallese you might notice that there are many other ways to say ‘my,’ ‘your,’ etc. For instance, with food, drinks, houses, parts of the body, and many other things, the way to say ‘my,’ ‘your,’ etc. is very different.  For now you don’t have to know about these complications, but if you want to know now you can look at Lessons 66-79.

– If you want to put ‘my,’ ‘your,’ etc. with a noun (for instance, to say ‘my book,’ or ‘your pencil’), you usually put ‘my,’ ‘your,’ etc. after the noun, and put the word for ‘the’ in between.  For example:

baamḷe eo aō       = family/the(singular)/my                     = my family
pinjeḷ eo ad           = pencil/the(singular)/our                   = our pencil
bok eo an Becca  = book/the(singular)/his,her,its/Becca   = Becca’s book

If it is a plural noun (for instance in ‘my books’) use the plural word for ‘the’ (‘ro’ for humans, ‘ko’ for non-humans):

bok ko aṃ      = book/the(plural)/your = your books
brother ro aō  = brother/the(plural)/my = my brothers

– You can use the English words ‘brother,’ ‘sister,’ ‘cousin,’ ‘uncle,’ ‘aunty’ (for ‘aunt’), ‘mama’ (for ‘mother’) and ‘baba’ (for ‘father’) in Marshallese.  For instance:

uncle eo aō   = uncle/the(singular)/my            = my uncle
aunty ro aer  = aunt/the(plural)/their             = their aunts
sister eo an   = sister/the(singular)/his,her,its  = his sister or her sister

(Remember to say ‘brother,’ ‘sister,’ etc. with a Marshallese accent, even though they come from English!)

There is another, more ‘Marshallese’ way to refer to relatives, but using it requires delving much more deeply into possessives.  If you are curious now, look at Lessons 66-79.

Vocabulary

jar to go to church, to attend a church service, to pray
kọọt steal
jook shy, embarrassed, ashamed
kōppojak (ñan) to get ready (for), to prepare (for) (also a euphemism for going to the bathroom)
juon men something
aolep men everything
juon armij somebody
aolep armij everybody
juon jikin somewhere
aolep jikin everywhere

Language Tip

Kinship words

The Marshallese system of kinship terms is very different than what you are used to in English.  The word for ‘mother’ is used for your real mother as well as your mother’s sisters, and the word ‘father’ is used for your real father as well as your father’s brothers.  In the same way, all the children of your mother’s sisters and your father’s brothers are considered to be your brothers and sisters.  For other aunts, uncles, and cousins, different terms are used that have no equivalent in English.  These days, Marshallese people understand and sometimes use the English categories ‘cousin,’ ‘aunt,’ and ‘uncle,’ but if you want to refer to relatives in the most Marshallese way, you might want to ask a Marshallese person about the real system of Marshallese kinship.

Practical Marshallese