Kanak-Drehu love poem
Qëmekei eö ngöne lai thulu,
Eje hi lai loi poeme i eni ka hmingöming,
Ngo lolojë ej ha patr,
Hawe ejei hë lai : eni a hnimi eö !!
An other version
Ame lo qamek i munë goné i thulu
Ejelaï lo i poeme i eni ka hmigemig
Gno lolojë gazo ko la tro
Ejelaï eni a hnim i eö
→ Poem the mirror ←
The language of Lifou
This Kanak Drehu love poem (alternatives: Lifou, Dehu, De'u, Lifu, Qene Drehu, Lifouan), is a translation of the French poem "The mirror".
It is in New Caledonia that the most important linguistic variety of the French overseas is found.
There are around 40 Kanak languages and dialects, spoken by the indigenous populations of the Caledonian archipelago. Drehu is one of them, and is part of the Oceanic subgroup of the Austronesian language family.
Precolonial plurilingualism quickly gave way to a desire for standardization, for the sake of a better administration, so very early, the French banned the use of indigenous languages. It was not until 1970 with the creation of a division concerning the vernacular languages with the CTRDP, that the things began to change.
At the same time, as in other countries, the missionaries, in order to evangelize, selected a language to the detriment of others (Drehu will be part of this selection), thus creating a sort of hierarchy, which had no reason. .. another hierarchy, with French, the language of instruction, will go in the same direction!
The linguistic consequences of the history of New Caledonia are a total or almost total disappearance of some languages.
Due to the concurrency with French, and already the small number of speakers, like the other Kanak languages, Drehu is an endangered language, in terms of its daily use.
The first documented investigations on this language date back to the middle of the 19th century, since Drehu was well studied. The Kanak Academy of Languages (ALK), having set itself the task of investigating and archiving all the richness of this cultural heritage, in order at least to be able to preserve it. Important parts of the oral tradition are now preserved.
Thanks to the Nouméa agreement (05/05/1998), Drehu is recognized as a language of instruction. Actually, nothing is very official for the second degree, but the University of New Caledonia, and İNALCO in France, provides courses.
Drehu is a Kanak (Canaque) language spoken on Lifou and Tiga (archipelago of the Loyalty Islands), as well as on Grande Terre and in the cities. Most of the inhabitants of Lifou not only speak Drehu, but they are also able to read and write it.
This language of Lifou, one of the Loyalty Islands, is the language of the chiefs. It is an Austronesian language, spoken by 16,000 people, and one of the Kanak languages, having a regional language status.
Drehu has three language registers: ijiji (everyday Drehu), metrötr (respectful language) used with the elderly, ihnim (affectionate language) used for example, conversely, with children.
There is a poetic genre, among the Kanaks in general, it is the tenô, a historical poem, with eight feet (octosyllable).
It is ultimately the extended Latin alphabet, that the missionaries used, which was retained to write the Kanak languages and Drehu.
Drehu proverb: The tune kö, lo jö ne Joea. Laka kola pane cinajöne e cili trön, nge pine pë hë e Joea. Kola qaja koi ö thupëtresiji ka hape, pane inine jë la qene hlapa i ö me qene nöje i ö, qëmekene troa qaja la itre xa qene hlapa me melëne la itre xa qene nöje qa cailo.
Don't be like Joea's sun. It first illuminates the surroundings of this place (Joea), before the heart of it. Morality: First master your language and your culture before those of others! (Taidro Taine, ALK 2013).
Her and her history
Drehu is the language she speaks, and my verses shine with all the mirror of the sun and ocean that surrounds them.
If they reflect her, she has never succeeded to speak the language of the male gente, moreover, would it be possible to be able?
A bit of history: 1774, James Cook and the English, 14 years before Lapérouse (La Boussole and L'Astrolabe), are the first to set foot in New Caledonia.
Until the end of the 19th century, Melanesian populations, including the Kanaks, were deported, often far enough away, to work, in sugar cane plantations. The diseases brought by Europeans, added to displacement, will decimate in a century, nearly ¾ of the native population.
In the second half of the 19th century, France used New Caledonia as a penal colony for settlement, and deported prisoners. Land will be offered to many of them, to settle there ... while on the Kanak side, dispossessed of their land, they will be parked in reserves, and will become a minority in number, because in the same period, one began to mine the newly discovered nickel with an influx of new populations, who operate in the mines.
In a first wave will come: Japanese, Indians, Vanuatu, Javanese and Tonkinese, and then later, Antilleans, Réunionese and returnees from Algeria.