Kaninuwa love poem
Kanukanunu kana kafa kita
Kanukanunu kana kafakita sinenei
Yaku kafabwadubwadu dewabauna
Atu kuna venu dibwana kafabwadubwadu mokena i movamova
Nofe “yaku nuwababubu" kana kafanusafu!
→ French poem ←
About this translation
Regarding this translation, Ralph Waiyalaka, whose mother tongue is Kaninuwa, tells me that in Kaninuwa there is no word for mirror.
Indeed, the concept of the mirror was foreign to its people, and only arrived with the colonizers. So he translated the title of the poem as "Kanukanunu kana kafa kita", which could be translated by "image seers" or "image portrayer".
He also points out to me that instead of the word "Kanukanunu" we could also use the word "Mayamayau". "Kanukanunu" which means "image - shadow" can be used to designate a mirror, similarly the word "Mayamayau" which means "image - ghost", could have done the trick to designate an image in a mirror.
There is also no word for "poem". Nevertheless, its concept is similar to the idea given by "kwakwanebu", which literally means legend or a session for storytelling. The word "bwadubwadu" means speaking or speaking session. "Vika bwadubwadu" can mean a session of strong speaking or argument. He therefore chose "bwadubwadu" to equate for poem as this was nearest as bwadubwadu which means speaking or sayings, was the most suitable word.
The anglicism "Wataluma" which is often found to designate the language and the geographical area, should in fact be rather spelled "Watuluma". In fact it comes from the word "Vatunuma" to refer to a cave that now sits deep in the waters of the lagoon cove.
Here is my little love poem translated into Kaninuwa (Watuluma, Wataluma, Kaokao), a Malayo-Polynesian language, from the Papuan tip in Papua New Guinea, spoken by the Kaninuwa, very exactly in the province of Milne Bay, north of Goodenough Island, south of Wataluma.
To be even more precise, the Kaninuwa language is spoken in five villages Sivesive, Kikwanauta, Dayakokona, Osuwe and Kakaweyai.
Kaninuwa is relatively close to Kiriwinan, a language of the Trobriand Islands, as well as Dobu, another language of Goodenough Island.
Indeed, the Dobu language is an important foreign language for commerce, and by the missionary days of the 1800s, it became the language of politics, mission, and commerce. The bible and the hymns were in Dobu until the Bwaidoga was written.
With the work of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) the bible is now written or rather the book of John in the bible is written, with work continuing to interpret the whole bible in Kaninuwa.
It should also be noted that the language often used as a lingua franca on Goodenough Island is Bwaidoka, and like the other languages of Goodenough, Kaninuwa shares many words with Bwaidoka.
Kaninuwa has fewer than 400 speakers, of which less than 40 are monolingual. With such a small number of people speaking it, one can of course say that Kaninuwa is an endangered language.
Despite a real danger for this language, for the moment, Kaninuwa remains alive, thanks to its people, who even in small numbers, are proud of their roots (language and culture), and are committed to their maintenance.
Many of the Kaninuwa, even the elders, can read and write, and in their villages education is done in the language.
If we are to believe them, the Kaninuwa are originally from Gauyaba, east of Goodenough, near Bolubolu. They went first to Bwaidoka, then to Watuluma. They always saw themselves as a distinct group that never mingled with others.
Today they continue to carry on their traditions through meetings where they sing, dance and feast.