Notes on the First Revision

Preface to the Original Transcription

All text following this introduction is a near-exact transcription of Cliff Morris' 1992 Traveller's Dictionary in Tetun-English and English-Tetun. There have been some very minor editing changes to some obvious errors which is inevitable when an individual is author, editor and responsible for publication. For example, in the original page 67 of the booklet, the word 'window' is denoted as being from Portuguese origin, when it is clear that what was meant was the word 'DINELA'. Less obviously to those unfamiliar with Tetun was the accidental dropping of the final 'k' in 'HAKARAK' on the first phrase on page 73.

As Mr. Morris will state, this is a book primarily deals with what he calls the Tetun-Los dialect, which he differentiates from Tetun-Prasa, Tetun-Terik and Tetun-Belu. Contemporary linguists knowledgeable in the field of the languages of Timor are mainly of the opinion that Tetun-Terik and Tetun-Los are actually one and the same, whereas Tetun-Belu refers to the western dialect, split by the former Portuguese - Dutch (and now Timor Leste - Indonesia) border. As would be expected the Tetun-Belu dialect includes a larger number of Bahasa Indonesian loanwords, whereas Tetun-Prasa has a large number of words with Portuguese origin. Whilst visitors to East Timor with a European heritage will find the Tetun-Prasa version easier, especially if they have familiarity with any of the Romance languages, use of the alternative Tetun-Terik words is met with pleased recognition.

Language is the foundation of cultural identity, the mutual recognition of symbolic values and, often overlooked, the metaphorical connections between different symbolic values creating a narrative of meaning. It is not too much to suggest that when a language dies, a culture dies and often all that remains is a lingering memory often encapsulated in a handful of words and phrases and some behavioural mores. In this perspective, the newly re-established Democratic Republic of Timor Leste has seen fit to establish Tetun as a national language, although standardised spelling and grammar are still a matter of some debate. A visitor to East Timor will notice significant variation, of which what is provided in Mr. Morris' book is but one example.

It is very unfortunate that Cliff Morris', who died on October 5, 1998, never saw the re-establishment of an independent East Timor. Mr. Morris' interest in East Timor dates back to the second world war in 1942 when Australia placed commandos there (under protest from neutral Portugal) to establish links with potential local resistance and to distract Imperial Japan's moves towards Australia. In a sense the plan worked as the Japanese soon followed the Australian invasion, resulting in a massive loss of life to the Timorese as fighting broke out. Mr. Morris was part of the 2nd/4th Independent Company of Commandoes from September 1942 to January 1943. Following the Indonesian invasion in 1975, Mr. Morris recalled his debt and agitated for basic medical supplies and self-determination for the Timorese people for the rest of his life. In addition to this phrase book, he also published a more complete dictionary and a book of Timorese mythic tales in Tetun and English.

This transcription has been undertaken for free distribution under the GNU Public License over computer mediated communications. As the world's newest nation is re-established it also comes at a time when the world is adopting a new means of communication, a technology which may prove to be as powerful as the invention of movable type print. It is important under such circumstances that others in the world are provided the opportunity to learn about the East Timorese cultures and to learn the language of this extraordinarily stoic, resilient and caring people.

This work was conducted in September and October of 2003, the last weeks of working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, and the first weeks of my return to Australia. The text-editing packages GEdit and KWrite were used under the Red Hat and Mandrake distributions of the Linux operating system. At the time of publication it is the largest online Tetun dictionary.

I give my most sincere thanks to Celastina and Nona of Kuintaal Kiik, Santa Cruz for helping me understand the Tetun language with patience and humour and to Erica Hoehn for proofreading and other assistance in transcription. Thanks is also given to Liza Dezfouli for giving me a copy of the dictionary in the first instance. In addition to the transcription, I also provided the xhtml coding.

Lev Lafayette Melbourne, Australia, October 2003