In the meantime, having railed against a certain provincial governor for his constant use of weird English expressions, including 'yupela bai stap long cloud nain' when addressing landowners, I am now reliably informed that "everyone talks about 'cloud nain' in the village" (in Western Highlands).
1. Should this be klaut nain or cloud nain or "cloud nine" (etc)???
2. You wouldn't believe how many businesses (rainforest lodges, quilt makers, marriage celebrants, ISPs ...) are called 'Cloud Nine', not to mention the rock band (http://members.aol.com/cloudnines/index.htm) and the George Harrison appreciation site (http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Club/8446/). But where on earth did "cloud nine" originate?
The last site usefully contains the lyrics to Harrison's eponymous song ("I'll show you cloud nine...", "I'll see you there on cloud nine...", "While you're out looking for cloud nine...") but I'm none the wiser.
Can anyone (perhaps aged hippies) help with a derivation of the phrase?
3. How did this get into Tok Pisin and what do speakers use it to mean, other than the usual idea of a state of rapture? Are there allusions to marijuana usage??
John Burton April 2001
A strange expression indeed. I found this courtesy of Google, at http://www.shu.ac.uk/web-admin/phrases/bulletin_board/6/messages/861.html.
CLOUD NINE The expression up on cloud nine to describe a feeling of euphoric exaltation is based on actual terminology used by the U.S. Weather Bureau. Clouds are divided into classes and each class is divided into nine types. Cloud nine is the cumulonimbus cloud that you often see building up in the sky in a hot summer afternoon. It may reach 30,000 to 40,000 feet, so if one is up on cloud nine, one is high indeed. The popularity of cloud nine as a catch phrase, though, may be credited to the Johnny Dollar radio show of the 1950s. There was one recurring episode, like Fibber McGees famous opening of the closet door. Every time the hero was knocked unconscious which was often he was transported to cloud nine. There Johnny could start talking again. From Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1997).
Don. Gardner 20 Apr 2001