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Melanesian priest-linguist dies in California

The compiler of the first Tok Pisin Dictionary, Fr Frank Mihalic SVD, died in California on 8 December.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Fr Mihalic came to Papua New Guinea in 1948 and was based in Alexishafen, Madang. From there he moved to the East Sepik Province. After a time in the US due to illness, he returned to PNG in 1969, to Wewak, where he set up The Wantok Newspaper. It was during this time that he published the Jacaranda dictionary and grammar of Melanesian Pidgin.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate of linguistics from the University of PNG and an OBE from the Queen for his services to Melanesian Pidgin.

Fr Mihalic, who was 85 at the time of his death, spent 52 years in PNG, many of those working in schools and the Divine Word University. One of his more prominent students was Michael Somare, former PM of PNG.

Fr Francis Mihalic SVD - Priest, Linguist, Educator (Society of the Divine Word, Western USA Province)

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