tambu

Pacific Pidgin English: *tabu.

Bislama: tabu/tambu; Pijin: tambu; TSC: -.

The central meaning is that of ‘forbidden’ and to have been placed there by the choice of an individual and/or by communal cultural observances. The sense of something being intrinsically sacred or ‘taboo’ is less strong than that the sanction is at the will of a person or group of people: a garden owner, initiated men, custodians of culural lore, and so on.

Tryon (1995, part 1, p. 1145) gives *tapu or *tampu as the proto-Malayo-Polynesian word for ancestor. The only cognates of the ancestor meaning of tambu listed among PNG Austronesian languages listed in Tryon is for Manam, tubu and Nyindrou (Manus Island), tubu-n, and there are several cognates among other Austronesian languages (Tryon 1995, part 2, p. 214-216).

The extension to the relationship term of ‘inlaw’ reflects the many special observances that should, with varying degrees of strictness, be obeyed between inlaws.

tumbu, tumbuna.

Modifier forms

  1. Culture: sacred, marked by avoidance
    dispela ples i tambu this place is sacred (and you cannot go inside)
    meri i tambu long lukim tambaran women are forbidden to see the sacred objects

  1. Human behaviour: forbidden, not allowed, marked by abstinence
    ol tok nogut i tambu hia bad language is forbidden here
    dokta i tok, mi tambu long smok the doctor said I am not allowed to smoke
    ol Sister i stap tambu Sisters live as virgins

Noun forms

  1. Culture: a taboo, a cultural avoidance

  1. Kind of person: brother-in-law
    gude tambu! gooday brother-in-law!
    em i go lukim tambu bilongen he went to visit his brother-in-law

  1. Kind of person: any inlaw kandere
    em i go lukim ol tambu bilongen he went to visit his inlaws
    em tambu bilong ol hailans he married a Highlands girl


Revising the Mihalic Project, 26 Jan 2005 [Home]