Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The smallest room and other important cultural matters

The sign for the toilets at the library* have the Maori translation of "toilet" as te whare iti (literally "the little house"). I have no idea if that's the usual word for toilet in Maori (most places just have doors labeled wahine "women" and tane "men") or if someone was getting creative.

In vaguely related news, I have become totally addicted to Ask Your Auntie, Maori TV's answer to Oprah. How can you not love a show that tackles these hard-hitting issues?

Is your kaumatua a tyrant? Is your best friend trying to cut in on your tāne? Are you hoha with your boss? Sick of whanau treating your home like a hotel?**

But sadly, not a programme likely to make it overseas.


* New Zealand, how I love you and your bilingual public notices.
** kaumatua = tribal elder; tane = man; hoha = pissed off; whanau = (extended) family


EA said...

LOL, you have just given me laugh that has motivated me to get to work!

Ianqui said...

Host Ella Henry is joined by a rotating panel of knowledgeable wahine including Mabel Wharekawa, Aroha Hathaway, Vanessa Rare, Veeshayne Armstrong, Natashya Guttenbeil, Kath Akuhata-Brown, Christina Asher, Whetu Fala, Ngawai Greenwood, Rachel House, Tania Simon, Emma Afa and Kayte Ferguson.

I love the mix of names here: some totally anglo, some Maori last names (only), some first names (only), but only one totally Maori, that i see. And for all we know, the Maori don't traditionally even have more than one name.

clkl said...

Wow! This proves that being irritated with people around us is universal. It's independent of language or culture. Amazing.

I wonder if the solutions are any better/different than what Oprah offers.

StyleyGeek said...

You are right about the names, Ianqui. It hadn't struck me until you pointed it out. I think because mixed names like that are so common in NZ that I don't notice it any more. But these are pretty cool. Especially the names from other traditions too: Veeshayne (sounds Indian to me, but I have no idea), Guttenbeil (German? Dutch?), Afa (Samoan?).

I am not 100% sure, but I think traditionally, Maori (and polynesian in general) often had multiple names, but they didn't work in the same firstname surname way that most European names do.

StyleyGeek said...

Oh, and there isn't a totally Maori name among them: Whetu Fala must be part Samoan: Maori doesn't have f or l in its spelling system.

Gnome said...

That show sounds absolutely amazing. Is it all in Maori (have you already translated some?) or are only some phrases?

StyleyGeek said...

Ask Your Auntie is mostly English. There are lots of Maori words thrown in and some true bilingual moments, though.