Many Solomon Islanders speak English to some degree, or understand it at a basic level. As usual, some idiosyncrasies of the indigenous languages creep into their spoken English, with entertaining results. (This entry is not made to mock individuals or people who must tackle English as a second language [ESL], but merely some frequently occurring and, I think, amusing observations.)
Plurals are a sticky area for even the more advanced ESL speaker. Here in the Solomons, nothing gets a plural unless it doesn’t need it: Kilu’ufi Hospital is the “head quarter” for provincial health care, the physiotherapy department needs some new “equipments”, and sometimes patients with leprosy come seeking funding so their “childrens” can attend school.
Solomon Islands Pijin originally did not have “sh” or “ch” sounds, but as English pervades the land and language, these sounds mean many Pijin words resemble more closely their English counterparts. When English is used, however, it often contains Pijin-type sounds, or an inconsistent combination of both languages. Usually, in church, we “worsip” God because we love Him so “muts”, but today we “shelebrate[d] Jesus” and His “aweshome majesty”. Get that?!
It’s always a “strungle” (struggle) to know whether to include or omit letter “m”’s and “n”’s from words. It seems that Solomon Islanders are all for literary equality: if September and November get an “m”, “Octomber” ought to as well.
Stay tuned for an upcoming entry on the six-days-a-week hilarity that comes free with the Solomon Star newspaper….written expression in a second language is even harder than verbal