Lexical Usages of Herbs/Spices and Senses of Tastes in Amele, Papua New Guinea : A Linguistic Study
57 , 2015-09 , 滋賀大学経済学会
Amele is a Trans-New Guinean languagespoken in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea.Indigenous people, such as the Amele, stillhold onto their native language, though theyspeak Tok Pisin as a lingua franca. The Ameleas well as other native people in Papua NewGuinea, generally, still maintain their traditionallifestyles in villages.This study conducted two types of investigationsof the dietary life in the Amele society interms of linguistics. The author has been visitingthe field and has found that they use variousspices and herbs in their cooking. They usesalts, several sauces (imported from Thailandor Indonesia), coconut oils, and gingers for theseasoning in their traditional cuisines.First, this study examined lexical usages ofherbs and spices. We utilized the picture bookof herbs and spices, and confirmed whetherthey are available in Papua New Guinea byshowing these pictures. There were 105 types ofherbs and spices mentioned in the book; howeveronly 28 were confirmed to be available bythe Amele speakers. In particular, 12 of 28 typeshave individual names in Tok Pisin or Amele,and others are referred to by their Englishnames only. The 12 types include watercress,lemongrass, ginger, cinnamon, etc. These areconsidered to be deeply related to the Amelesociety and were imported a long time ago.Second, this study investigated senses oftastes in Amele. There are broad senses oftastes, such as delicious, hot, bitter, etc. The authorselected 33 types of tastes and examinedtheir expressions by the Amele speakers. Theyanswered 27 out of 33 types of expressions inAmele and did not find appropriate expressionsfor several complicated tastes, such as “slightlysweet and nice.” The 27 expressions acquired inthis study can be classified into six sections,which comprise a taste system of Amele. Theyare “delicious (good),” “sour and hot,” “sweet,”“strong,” “warm,” and “soft.” Particularly, varioustastes of spices are included in the “sourand hot” section, and the taste word “muug ac”in Amele indicates “spicy, sour, and salty.” Sucha broad meaning of “muug ac” implies thatthere are few types of spices in Amele.In conclusion, first, many types of herbs andspices have been brought by the Westernerssince the 19th century and only few types withtheir own native names might have beenbrought earlier. Second, the taste expressions ofAmele are limited, but they are constructed intheir own taste system. Accordingly, their dietarylife appeared to differ from that of theneighboring Asian countries.