Sunday, March 23, 2008

Roman Konkani is not Greek or Latin


Bor: Cecil Pinto

Cecil & Beatrice Pinto explore Goa with, and teach Konkani to, a young couple from the Isle of Wight in UK - Andrew and Justine.


Cecil: The best day to come here is on a Friday. The weekly market brings in farmers with local produce from neighbouring villages, as well as roadside hawkers selling a plethora of goodies. In Konkani it's called Sunkrarcho Bazaar, with Sunkrar being Friday.

Justine: And what are the other days of the week?

Beatrice: Well, starting with Monday we have Somar, Munglar, Budhvar, Brestar, Sunkrar, Sonvar and Aitar is Sunday.”

Andrew: Does the name Mapusa mean anything?

Cecil: Well, firstly, understand that Mapusa is also spelled as Mhapsheam, Mapu├ža and Mhapsa. One explanation of the name origin suggests that since Mapusa has always been a 'market' town the name comes from map asa with map being 'a small cup' used for measuring cereals for sale, and while cooking, and asa meaning 'having'. Of course, it makes as much sense as this other explanation. Mhapsa comes from Maha Pasa. Maha means great and Pasa is the Hindu God of farmers.

Justine: How come I never heard of a Lord Pasa in my study of Hinduism?”

Beatrice: Of course you didn't. He just made that up. As he does most explanations of place-name origins!

Andrew: What's this little green vegetable? It's the size of, but looks different and feels softer than, a gherkin.

Cecil: I may be jerking around but I know more about Goa than you!

Beatrice: He was referring to the tendli. It's called gherkin in English. But what he's holding is a bimbli. I don't know what it's called in English.

Cecil: It's called bilimbi in other countries. Supposedly originally from Indonesia it is grown in the Phillipines, Sri Lanka and even as far as South America. This is the first time I've seen bimblis being sold. They're normally freely available and grown in every porsum next to the pee outlet.

Andrew: Pee outlet? You mean the septic tank? And what's a porsum?

Beatrice: A porsum is the area surrounding the house. Sort of like garden or compound. A pee is a kitchen sink that flows into the porsum. Bimbli trees need a lot of constant water supply and porous soil. Septic tanks are recent concepts. Our ancestors had a well balanced system to take care of all waste.

Justine: So I hear. The pig toilets were an awesome concept. Pity it's dying out. How are bimblis cooked?

Beatrice: Bimblis are very sour and so used to add an acidic content to any dish. Similar to tamarind, which incidentally is called cheench. It can also be used as a base for a curry.

Cecil: The kumanv, or pig toilet as you called it, is not the only waste disposal system our ancestors devised. There is the concept of donn. Basically edible waste. This was fed to the pigs. People who didn't rear pigs had their dhonn collected by people who did. The dhonn collectors even used to pay them for the dhonn with a nominal coconut, or naal as we call it, every month. Imagine being paid for your waste! How many names for pig do you have in England?

Justine: Well, there's a pig and a sow and sometimes we use the word swine.

Beatrice: Here a pig is called a dukor and sometimes a soloug when it is younger. A sow is called a dukon and sometimes a leitao when it is younger. And you also have a barranv which is an undomesticated un-castrated pig that is intentionally left loose to impregnate the dukons.

Cecil: If I'm reborn as a pig I would like to be a barranv. Pork away pal! Do you know pork is referred to as dukra-mas, which basically means pig-meat. Mas means meat. So you have kombye-mas for chicken with kombi being a hen and kombo being a rooster and peel being a chicken. Also you have bokdya-mas with bokdo being a goat, bokdi a she-goat and bokuddlem for a kid goat. And of course padkulem is a calf, gai is a cow and pado is a bull, so gai-mas is beef.

Beatrice: That's enough bull for now. Let's check out the sausages.


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