Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Yapese Lessons

We've now taught our final Seminary class for this semester, and had one of our best classes yet. We have noticed that though they all speak English quite well, they always pray in Yapese or one of the outer Island dialects. If they pray in Yapese, the outer Islanders can't understand, and if they pray in an outer island language, the Yapese can't understand... and then there is us.. we can't understand either one! We asked the students if they wanted to learn to pray in English and they were eager to learn, so we have scheduled that for the new year and agreed that if they learned to pray in English, we'd learn to pray in Yapese! (little did I know what we were getting ourselves into!)

So this morning a couple of the younger missionaries came over to help us learn how to pray in Yapese. First, I wrote out a very simple prayer that might be appropriate to use when we begin Seminary class and I had them translate what I had written into Yapese. FYI, there are 45 letters in the Yapese alphabet, and 16 are vowels. The letter 'd' is pronounced as a hard "th" sound (as in 'mother') unless there are two d's in the word -- in which case the first occurance of d is pronounced like our d. (so 'gadad' is pronounced ga-dath... remember to make the 'th' hard... (like mother)... not soft (like moth)

The letter combination of 'ng' (which occurs a lot) is pronounced like the ng in 'song'. So now we get a word like 'danga' (which is pronounced 'th(hard) ong ah'). Danga means "no"

The translation is written out below. The bold line is Yapese. Yapese sentence structure is quite different from what we are used to, so the line in italics is a direct translation of the Yapese phrase... and the third line of each phrase (if there is a substantial difference from the direct translation) is the original phrase as I wrote it in English. I find the direct translation back to English to be very interesting.

Chitamangmaed nu tharmiy
Our Father in heaven

Kamagar romaed ko gubin e pitowath kom pii' ngomaed
Thanks that is ours for all blessings you (past tense) give to us
We thank thee for the many blessings we enjoy

Wenig ngom ni ngam towathnograed pistudent rog
Please to you that you will bless them, students that are mine.
We ask thee for thy blessings upon our Seminary Students.

Gomad ba yog e pit'ney
We presently say these things
We say these things

Udaken e fithingan Yesus Kristus, Amen
Through the name that is His, Jesus Christ, Amen
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

We are having a great time here. Adjusting rapidly to the heat and the culture. This is going to be a very different but very good Christmas. We will not be cooking turkey this year, but we are gathering with a couple of other families at one of the beaches and will be eating turtle! (I know! I know!... and it is just gross the methods used to kill the turtle too... but it is a traditional Yap feast... and probably the only time in our lives we'll actually be able to try it)

Merry Christmas to you all!


  1. merry christmas!! love you guys! xo j.

  2. Leigh & Winona:
    Sounds like you are having a great learning experience on your mission. I don't know about eating turtle, but hopefully it was enjoyable. I will enjoy following you on your blog.
    Tracey (Lewis) Herod

  3. Leigh & Winona
    I have some friends that are visiting with their son who served his mission there. Their names are Carol and Ray Roberts. YOu might just run into them, I told them to look out for you. Happy New Year!!!
    Shirley Fleming

  4. Hope you both had a wonderful Christmas eating turtle...I have heard that turtle soup is really good too. Hope also that you have a healthy and memorable (in good ways) 2010. I plan on sending an actual snail mail letter, not sure when it will arrive though. Hopefully before this time next year! Love you and pray for you. xo susan

  5. so... i have to know! how was the turtle!?

  6. A Christmas to treasure indeed! Thank you for sharing some of your adventures and experiences through your blog. I understand you would like your address along the right hand column. When you post a new post there is a tab labelled layout click on it. It brings you to the page elements tab which is a layout of your blog. On the right side of your 'page layout' this a box that says 'add a gadget' below it there should be a few boxes that say picture and text...... click on the edit word in a box with text and if it is blank add in your address. If it isn't blank leave it and close it. If you can't find a blank one use the 'add a gadget' to add another text box and then you can add in your address. Cheers for a great new year to you from the Neilson Family!!