Revising the Mihalic Project


What is the ‘Mihalic’?

Fr. Frank Mihalic, 1916-2001, spent 50 years as a Catholic missionary in Papua New Guinea, as an educator, and as a promoter of Tok Pisin literacy. His key work on Tok Pisin, the Mihalic’, is his Grammar and dictionary of Neo-Melanesian (1959), republished as The Jacaranda dictionary and grammar of Melanesian Pidgin (1971), among many smaller guides and articles. He was the founding editor of the Tok Pisin newspaper Wantok, today published weekly in Port Moresby by Word Publishing.

What is Tok Pisin?

Tok Pisin, spoken throughout Papua New Guinea and a companion language to English and about 800 vernacular languages, is one of at least four extant Pacific pidgin languages: the others are Bislama  in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands Pijin in the Solomon Islands, and Torres Strait Creole, also known as Broken, in the Torres Strait. Tok Pisin has about five million speakers of whom one million may learn it as a first language whether or not they achieve fluency in their own vernaculars in early childhood, or in English through exposure at school.

What is this project?

This is a collaborative project to revise the ‘ Mihalic’ – you can help if you speak, read, grew up with, research or have anything to do with Tok Pisin – and it is in its early stages. In the web site we have been using since 2001, topics exist for only a few of the expected 4000-5000 headwords that will be dealt with eventually. We are about switch to collaborative software that did not exist five years ago, and this should speed up the process of revision.

An announcement will be made about this shortly

Please feel free to join the discussion list

John Burton
Australian National University
8 March 2006

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