We are working on the present tense this week (and let's be honest, for many weeks to come). Often, my students say things like, "I am swim" or "He is eat". Anywho, teaching (and im sure my students would agree , learning about) present progressive tense is about as un-fun as it can get. In the attempts to make a more fun and engaging activity, I stole an idea from a teachers book we have. The idea is to draw a big picture of a town, and all the people in the town are walking, buying, drinking, etc. doING "ing" things. They all are also looking up, but you hide what they are looking at. After you read the passage, you ask the students what they think the people are looking at, and then reveal a.....U.F.O. I'm sure in America it's a hit....quite different here.
Before school started I had searched frantically in our dictionary, so confident that they would have a word for aliens, or spaceship, maybe even U.F.O.But, no. The word for "alien" was the same word the people use here for people from New Zealand. The word for "space" meant more like...give me space. There was no extraterrestrial, spaceship, outer space. Nothing.
I was a little worried about not having the Tongan word for my spaceship, but, I figured aliens and such were universal. And though I am not a fantastic drawer, I pretty much traced the picture, so it was obviously an alien spacecraft.
When I had my grand finale in class, after working it up and creating suspense, engaging all my little students....they had no idea what it was. "Airplane?", they asked. What can you do but laugh. And wish for movies like Independence Day or something.
After class I received a reply from a text I had sent earlier to my old language coach. Vaka Vava. Vaka means boat and vava means "space between the earth and sky". Tongan is hilarious, and never quite what I want it to be.
There just aren't that many words in Tongan, so, so often, words are a combination of two other words. Confused? Me too! Although, it makes trying to communicate easier at times!
Vaka puna- which is airplane, literally means boat that is flying/jumping.
Manu puna-which is bird, literally means animal that flies.
Maybe I've already used this example, but I love it. Me'a is thing. Ofa is love. Me'a ofa means gift, but literally a thing of love.
Manatu'i is remember, and again 'ofa is love. Manatu ofa means miss, but literally to remember love.
Tongan-sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it.