From the Mbula-English Dictionary (Ro Ta Ipiyooto Sua Mbula Uunu)

This dictionary is the product of some twenty five years of involvement with the Mangaaba-Mbula people under the auspices of the Papua New Guinea Branch of SIL (formerly the Summer Institute of Linguistics). Over the course of those years, the two authors have lived among the Mbula people in Yangla village, learned the Mbula language, analyzed the language and published a reference grammar and other linguistic papers about the language, worked together with many talented co-translators to translate a significant portion of the Bible, and produced a wide variety of literacy materials for adults and children.

The present work is a kind of capstone for our efforts among the Mbula people. It summarises the current state of our knowledge of the lexicon of their language. Anyone who has ever worked on the lexicography of a language other than his or her mother tongue will certainly be conscious, as we are, of the deficiencies of their knowledge of the language. Despite one’s best efforts, it always seems that the surface of the language has only barely been scratched. This is certainly the case for a language as rich as Mangaaba-Mbula. It is still the case that we regularly encounter new words. So no claim is made that the present dictionary is any way exhaustive. The dictionary is primarily intended to serve the Mangaaba-Mbula people by documenting and standardising their language, and helping them to increase their proficiency in English and better understand the written English texts that come their way in their encounters with the outside world.

However, linguistic and anthropological researchers will find much in the dictionary that will be of interest to them as well. The dictionary is divided into the following sections: 1) vernacular introduction, 2) English introduction, 3) Mbula-English dictionary, 4) English-Mbula finder list, and 5) some listings of semantic groupings of words (i.e. Semantic fields). This last section contains listings of:1) environmental terminology, 2) body and plant parts, 3) kinship terminology,4) colour terms, 5) houses and buildings, 6) Biblical key terms, 7) lists of vernacular names of various types of birds, fish, insects, shellfish, snakes, plants, and trees.

Salme Bugenhagen and Robert Bugenhagen