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See above for examples. This is however possible in Telefol. Body-part expressions are used as modifiers in noun phrases in some other TNG languages as well. An Oksapmin example is given in 14 and a Kalam example in When the linguistic work on Mian started with Smith and Weston in the late sixties see Smith and Weston , the body-part tally system was not used as a general counting device, as it was for example in Telefol Healey ; Healey Nowadays, the body-part counting system is basically defunct.

It is remembered at least in parts but it is not used anymore.

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Body-part tally systems in other TNG languages are still in use. For example, in Kalam and Oksapmin older speakers still use the system A. Pawley and R. Yet, even in these languages the traditional methods of counting have lost a lot of ground to Tok Pisin numerals. Saxe and Esmonde report in a study for Oksapmin that the prolonged contact of the speech community with the decimal system in the economic context puts pressure on the traditional systems and promotes the use of Tok Pisin numerals. They also report that there is a strong link between the degree of education and the use of the Tok Pisin numeral system.

It is easy to see how schools, where children were exposed to Tok Pisin, entrench the use of Tok Pisin numerals. While body-part and Tok Pisin numerals still exist side by side in Oksapmin, use of body-part expressions is mainly found among older speakers and use of Tok Pisin numerals in younger, more educated speakers.

Another factor facilitating the widespread use of Tok Pisin numerals is that many men from the Ok area and in general from rural areas in New Guinea were commonly hired for cash to work on plantations or for various companies throughout the region. In these contexts social and economic transactions would be almost exclusively in Tok Pisin.

For these speakers Tok Pisin numerals become the norm and they take this attitude with them when they return home. First, one can treat a counting step on the body as a multiple of 10 in toea so that numbers up to K2. Second, one can indicate the numbers for kina and toea separately, which would allow one to cover numbers up to K On the use of the base 20 hands and feet part of the Yupno system in the trade store environment, see Wassmann and Dasen Nevertheless, the Tok Pisin decimal system is better suited for counting and arithmetic operations in the context of a western cash economy.

Tok Pisin numerals were introduced together with western currency and were propagated through the education system. So if a new system of goods exchange comes with its own highly suitable system of counting and reckoning it makes sense to avail oneself of this system. Anthropological reasons may also have played a role. The set of things which were traditionally counted in exact terms was quite limited and not necessarily co-extensive with the set of objects which suddenly had to be counted in a cash economy.

To use the new numbers for the new objects was the obvious thing to do. The fact that the body-part tally system in Mian had been restricted to counting temporal units gave it an especially hard time when it came to surviving as a counting system in the modern world. Across TNG there is some formal variation between the body-part tally systems found in various languages but their function of keeping track of bride and compensation payments and of counting pigs and various object of cultural significance is essentially the same.

The introduction of a western cash economy, currency, and the decimal system of Tok Pisin, together with the education system, which propagates and entrenches these, led universally to a decline of traditional body-part tally systems.

While the system is defunct in Mian, it is still used by older speakers in some other TNG languages. Abau language: Phonology and grammar. Workpapers in Papua New Guinea languages 9. Ukarumpa: Summer Institute of Linguistics. Campbell, Stuart. The country between the headwaters of the Fly and Sepik Rivers.

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Geographical Journal Champion, Ivan F. Across New Guinea from the Fly to the Sepik. London: Constable. Chan, Eugene. Comrie, Bernard. Haruai numerals. Numeral types and changes worldwide, ed. Trends in Linguistics, Studies and Monographs Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Craig, Barry.

Endangered Languages and Cultures » Blog Archive » Click here – new grammar of a Papuan language

The Menggwa Dla language of New Guinea. University of Sydney dissertation. The Bible translator practical papers Fedden, Sebastian.

A grammar of Mian, a Papuan language of New Guinea. University of Melbourne doctoral dissertation. A grammar of Mian. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. Greenberg, Joseph H.

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Generalizations about numeral systems. Universals of human language, ed. Greenberg, Charles A. Ferguson, and Edith A. Moravcsik, — Harrison, David K. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Healey, Phyllis. Telefol noun phrases. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Healey, Alan. A survey of the Ok family of languages, reconstructing Proto-Ok. Australian National University doctoral dissertation. Hughes, Jock. Upper Digul survey. SIL International. Kienzle, Wallace; Stuart Campbell.

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  4. Notes on the natives of the Fly and Sepik River headwaters. Oceania 8. Cross-cultural studies in cognition and mathematics. New York: Acedemic Press. Lean, Glendon A.

    Primary texts

    Counting systems of Papua New Guinea and Oceania. Lewis, M. Ethnologue: Languages of the world.