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Growing Courageousness of the Chuukese Language … Before jumping deeply into our main topic, let’s talk briefly about Alfred Korzybski, a Polish engineer-mathematician  who, after emigrating to the US, continued his advance studies at Harvard and became a celebrated philosopher. Among his scholarly work is his “Manhood of Humanity,” first published in 1921 by EP Dutton  & Co in 1921 with several subsequent editions. It was not until sixty-one years later that I came across the book when, in the winter semester of 1982, I was made to purchase a copy of it as it was a required reading in an undergrad class.

The author explained that the book was “primarily a study of Man and ultimately embraces all the great qualities and problems of Man and takes into consideration all the characteristics

which make Man what he is.” AK went on to note that in the book “great pains have been taken not to use words insufficiently defined, or words with many meanings.” Here lies his fondness, if not propensity, to push around his students in his linguistic experiment labs at Princeton and charge to them: “whatever you say it is, it ain’t.” AK was acclaimed as the father of the specialized field of general semantics, a philosophy of linguistic aimed at developing “Man’s time-binding capacity.”

Suppose AK was risen from his grave in America tonight and brought to Tolensom in Chuuk. To be sure, the kindhearted folks of Feup are apt to invite him: “eto sipwe mongo rais mei Kikkoman” (“come, let’s eat rice with Kikkoman soy sauce”). Listening to the natives around him, the Polish general semanticist would scarcely miss the growing courageousness of the Chuukese language, to wit:

1) “I love you” — Many Chuukese speakers understand this English expression. Do me a favor by translating it into Chuukese. Not as easy as it first appears, and it sounds awkward saying it, except when you borrow the Ifalukese word “faiyo” but please use extreme care in using the Polowatese/Houkese “faumehom,” a crude, if not disrespectful, reference to one’s eyes to express “love” where “sapoulum” would do the trick — as far as the Pollap-Fanatopweans and Paremese are concerned. The point here is that direct translation of “I love you” into Chuukese is abnormal, indigenously unacceptable. Indigenously speaking, it is awkward for a man to express joyfully his “love” to his sister and vice versa like the folks in the so-called liberal societies do. Why? It violates the “wall of separation” that is expected to exist between siblings of opposite genders or those generally categorized as brothers and sisters.

SOTIS (Semantics of the islands)

I don’t know whether it was a good thing to avoid appearance of intimacy between siblings of opposite genders. it’s just how life was lived. Nowadays, however, sisters cannot wait to pronounce unto the world their “love” for their brothers, tearing down the curtain of separation. Indirectness in addressing or recognizing siblings of opposite genders has begun to fade away. It is an index of being modern. You don’t tell your brother that you love him; rather, you tell a bird somewhere in the tree that you: “fayeou perhen mwaanemu” (achingly miss the feet of that man, who happens to be your brother or male cousin).

Similarly, you do not directly refer to your sister by her proper name. The Chuukese language thrives on contextualization and indirectness. You refer to your sister simply as “kena rhopwut” or “ekena fefin” (those women, usually speaking in plural form, even if there is only one female in question. It is a way of showing respect that is seldom understood or appreciated.

2) “En” or “You” is another expression that has gained linguistic courageousness by further striking down the virtue of indirectness upon which the Chuukese culture operates. The “En” expression is used conspicuously in informal convo and social media even by honorable ladies in the form of “Kapong En” (Greetings to You!).

Chuuk Governor and wife

AK and the likes of him would regard this invasive or interruptive expression almost as a curse, that is, pointing the pointing finger, if not the middle finger itself directly at somebody. It looks like something is drifting out beyond the reef. We are accustomed to demanding something instantaneously and directly. Nuance and indirectness tend to lose ground.

3) I’ve made observations twice or thrice on various appropriate and mischievous usages of the respect-showing word, Rewe, used chiefly in the outer islands of Chuuk and Yap. Those who are not from the NW could be forgiven for their ignorance about the social usage and nuance of the word — except when using it intentionally in a crude or disrespectful manner.

But what can be said about the native NW folks who simply do not know? Do you penalize downright ignorance, such as a fellow who addresses most of those whom he runs into as a “Rewe” as a NW equivalent of a Filipino who addresses almost every American as “Sir”. Sometimes the dividing line between the colonists and the colonized becomes too blurry and indistinguishable. The Cooked and the Raw, the French anthropologist Straus used to remark.

Covid19 Vaccination Experience – Why you should get it asap.

Let me say this, many thank yous to the awesome Pacific Islander Community Association of Washington (PICAWA), specifically brother Joseph Seia for what he did and does for our community. Beautiful humans of PASIFIKA are, at least in the state of Washington, taken care of in the so many little ways PICAWA is pushing through, whether it be food drives, gift cards, housing assistance, covid tests, or vaccinations. PICAWA is at the forefront of keeping all of us a little safer. And I might add, get a little recognition from the other humans. Hehehe. Way to go PICAWA! Brothers Joseph and Toka can keep on bugging me. 

It’s in no small parts with PICAWA that we got the chance to get vaccinated a little earlier and I am here to tell you it’s ok to get yours too when your turn comes up. My wife, our youngest son and myself got the PFIZER vaccine and the only complaint I had was soreness at the spot. It was more hurtful than any other vaccines I had taken. Otherwise, nothing more beyond that.

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2021 is a Super Busy Year So far

Now my wife is having a second thought about selling our house. She started yesterday upon finding out that I am spending almost $10K on these units alone. She was not having a good day yesterday. Complaining all day why I had to get a new ac when it’s not required and stuff. 

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The Remodeling

In order for me to go fishing, I gotta finish what needs to be done first. And that’s why I am busy every day now remodeling all the rooms in my house.

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