Monday, November 29, 2004

remembering ‘Pok Mang’

(with apology to the ‘aruah’ and their generations)

I used to live in Kemasik; a small village somewhere between Kerteh (famous for it oil industries) and Kijal (famous for its durian and lemang). I can’t remember what my village was famous for, perhaps none. For those who remember the movie ‘Fenomena’ (starring M. Nasir and Ramona Rahman; not John Travolta’s ‘Phenomenon’), that ‘beach’ was Kemasek.

Despite it not being famous for anything, I have many a fond memory. One, is of all the many ‘Pok Mang’ in my village.

Pok’(Pak – short of ‘Bapak/Bapa’) is a term to denote fatherliness. Terengganu elders seems to prefer ‘Pok’ over the more standard ‘pok cik’ (pak cik/uncle).

Ilmu menda gok pok paka? Napok gagoh sokmo’ (Ilmu apa pakcik pakai? Nampak gagah sentiasa’. / What’s your secret uncle? You are looking strong all the time’.) ‘Tak dok ilmu satu sa heh, memang keturunang hebak doh.’ (Tak ada apa ilmu pun, memang pakcik dari keturunan yang hebat. / ‘I have no special secret, just hereditary.)

Mang’ is a shorter call for Rahman (Deramang), Othman (Semang - not the ‘kueh’), Lokman or Sulaiman (Lemang – not the food). So ‘Pok Mang’ was appropriate to address all the elderly Mang’s (Man’s) in Terengganu. But because of the profusion of the name Rahman, Othman and Sulaiman, spelt and pronounced in various versions, a need arise to be specific lest one ‘Mang’ could be mistaken for the other. With the many ‘Pok Mang’s’ in Kemasek then, the need was present and clear.

My grandfather was ‘Pok Mang Bah’ (Pak Man Bas / Pak Man the bus driver). He was after all the driver of ‘Bah Tong Aik’ (Thong Aik Omnibus Co Ltd buses) plying the route between Kemaman – Kemasek – Air Jerneh. Together with ‘Ah Guang’ the conductor, they were kind of an ‘institution’ in the area, that I was known more as ‘cucu Pok Mang Bah’ a term ensuring free rides on Thong Aik buses anytime. Those days, he took the bus home in the evening so that he can set out early on his first trip to Kemaman. The red bus is treated almost exclusively his.

There was a ‘Che’gu Mang’ whose love of ‘ayam laga’ (fighting rooster) earned him the nick name of ‘Che’gu Mang Ayang’ (Cikgu Man Ayam / Cikgu Man the chicken). I can’t remember much about the ‘laga’ event but I remember well my uncle (not much older than me really) going to Che’gu Mang’s house challenging his son to a fight. Those days fighting among boys under the big jackfruit tree in the school compound were common and somewhat tolerated. If the fight was inconclusive – they never were; the fight continues outside school or repeated again the next days. With an ‘ayang’ (chicken) nickname already given, a new teacher also a ‘Mang’ coming to teach in Kemasek later were naturally called ‘Che’gu Mang Itek’ (Cikgu Man the duck).

The village coconut picker was ‘Pok Mang Nyor’ (Pak Man the coconut man). He would ride his faithful old bicycle, wearing a ‘kaing pelekak’ shirtless, a semutar on his head. The kain pelikat lifted and knotted into a ‘cawak’ before every climb. He goes round the village looking up at any ‘nyor tua’ and asking the owner if they would sell. When picking took place, us kids would normally hang around for some treat of ‘nyor muda’. ‘Ambik nyor mude etek, Pok Mang!’ (Take some young coconut too, Pak Man) we would call and he would always oblige. Not only he picks coconuts and climbs all those tall coconut trees (rather than employing a ‘beruk) he too operates a ‘rumah salai’ to dry the ‘kopra’. Those days when harvest was good, we kids could earn a few cents to ‘colek isi nyor’ (picking the coconut flesh from its shell).

In the coconut business is another man, not a ‘Mang’ but a ‘Pok Soh Nyadak’ (Pak Soh penyadat kelapa). Many of the new generation have not heard of ‘penyadat’ or ‘sadat’, a technique of collecting ‘nira’ or ‘air tuak’( juice) from the ‘mayang’ (coconut shoots). The juice is collected in a ‘tukir’ (a bamboo container) left on top of the tree. The tuak in the ‘tukirs were regularly collected and kept for making the ‘menisang’ (gula melaka). When the collection of ‘tuak’ is enough, Pok Soh would set out to make his ‘menisang’. Maybe once in a week. This was occasionally an event, with the kampong kids gathering around for the ‘kerok’.The bigger kids helps to ‘kucau’ (stir) the ingredient in the big ‘kawoh’ (kawah / cauldron) – very similar to the making of ‘dodol’. After all the works were done, the ‘menisang’ poured into its ‘kerek’ (a ring made of mengkuang leaves) us kids would be given chance to get the ‘kerok’ – whatever left in the ‘kawoh’ (cauldron). Of course he never disappoint us with some treats of the hot liquid ‘menisang cair’ along the way. Sometimes he makes ‘menisang nyor’ also.

The school gardener was ‘Pok Mang Tukan Kebung’. Together with ‘Pok Awi Tukan Sapu’ . Together they occasionally make some mean off-the-cuff, un-planned ‘b’alah patung’ (berbalas pantun) while cooking at ‘kenduri’. Of course ‘Pok Awi’ himself rearing some head of water buffaloes is known as ‘Pok Awi Khuba (Kerbau)’ a call he disliked but accepted good-naturedly.

The rich man of the village was 'Pok Mang Porong’. Beats me how he got the nickname.

Nicknames are a way of endearing a person to the society he lives in. Whether or not the nicknames are liked, the simple kampong folks are normally good natured enough to accept them; name-calling and bantering in their life. They were all like my father or grandfather to me. Such was the closeness of our society. If in my fond memory of them something I say was offensive, from the deepest of my heart I say ‘I am sorry’.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

j’etak words

J’etak literally means ‘spring’- the verb. Some has attempted to standardize the spelling to ‘jentat’ or ‘berjentat’ though I’m not sure if it was recognized by Dewan Bahasa. I’ll check it out later. Example; ‘perakak tikuh itu j’etak bila tikuh makang upang (perangkap tikus itu j’etak bila tikus makan umpan / the mouse trap springs when the mouse took the bait).

The word j’etak bring to mind a beautiful prose (or is it pantun?) I learn when young. It sounds like this. For effect, all e to sound as ‘e tanda’

Tak, tak ge,
Be-j’etak ekor nage
J’alang kire-kire,
Tige puluh tige

Anok itek To’ Wi
Jalang tepi kolang
Sakik ape To’Wi
Sakik senga tulang

Tak, tak ge
the dragon’s tail sprang,
walk about and count

Ducklings of To’ Wi
Walk by the pond
What ails To’ Wi
Arthritis (do I make any sense here?)

I can’t remember the rest.

It would be fairly easy to explain the j’etak pronunciation concept to those familiar with ‘sabdu’ (the small ‘w’ above) in the Quranic Arabic pronunciation. Example; k a l a is 'kala'(scorpion) but k a l (sabdu) a became ‘kal-la’, a m a is ‘ama’ but a m (sabdu) a is ‘am-ma’ (indian for mother).

When a word in Terengganu speak is spoken j’etak, it may one, carry a different meaning; two, became a shortened version of twin-words; three, changes noun to verb; four, replaces ‘ter’ commonly denoting ‘accidentally’

To explain, let me try.

carry a different meaning;
goreng (fry); noun becomes g’oreng (berbohong/lies); verb
sungguh (true); becomes s’ungguh(bersungguh-sungguh/determined)

In normal use of ‘buat -,as in 'Che Yah panda ‘buak’nasi dagang';buak (buat) carry the meaning of ‘making’. ‘Che Yah is good at making nasi dagang’. But when ‘buak’ is pronounced j’etak it takes on a different meaning. ‘Che Yah Nasi Dagang tu b’uak pulok doh, abih baju laki dia kena buang’; b’uak (b’uat) now means ‘at it again, throwing tantrum, losing one’s mind, mad’). ‘Che Yah Nasi Dagang (the nasi dagang maker) is at it again, all her husband’s clothes were thrown away.

changes noun to verb.
goreng (fry); noun becomes g’oreng (menggoreng/frying); verb
jalang (jalan/road); becomes j’alang (berjalan/walking); verb. ‘Pok Soh tengoh j’alang di tengoh jalang’ Note that for both ‘tengoh’ and ‘jalang’, the meaning changes. The early ‘tengoh’(sedang) function as English ‘is’, while the later ‘t’engoh’ means ‘at the middle’. Likewise the early ‘j’alang’ denotes ‘berjalan’ (walking) and the later ‘jalang’(jalan) means the noun ‘road’.

For note, the word ‘jalang’ in standard Bahasa means ‘vamp’ or ‘lady of bad character’. Terengganuan was not known to commonly use it preferring the term ‘orang bujang’. I tend to think that it was not in Terengganu vocabulary. Similar instance can be found in the use of the degratory ‘menatang’ (binatang/animal) as in the ‘menatang mung!’(you animal!) in Terengganu speak. In standard Bahasa ‘menatang’ means to carry something carefully as in the famous ‘peribahasa’; Bagai menatang minyak yang penuh’ (Like carrying a plate full of oil). So to get away after screaming ‘menatang mung’ or a much angrier 'menatang berayok mok mung' at someone, explain that you were using the standard terminology. That is if you are still standing after ‘kena terajan’ (being kicked a-la Jet Li)

became a shortened version of long or twin-words;
budak laki-laki (boys) becomes budok l’aki
budak perempuan (girls) becomes budok p’uang

replaces ‘ter’; also changing the meaning
kejut (wake) becomes k’ejut stands for ‘terkejut’ (surprised)
sepak (kick) becomes s’epak stands for ‘tersepak’ (tripped)

If you think the categorization was exhaustive, a friend pointed out something funny to me.

The word ‘punoh’ or ‘punah’ (destroyed/damaged) was not converted to ‘p’unoh’ but to ‘m’unoh’ (memusnah). How come, when the word ‘Munah’ is a short form of a lady’s name ‘Maimunah’?. Use it j’etak, it became ‘m’unah’ (memusnah/destroy). His explanation – ‘it takes a Munah (the lady) to carry out the act of destruction.

Try this for practice.

‘Moleklah tu Mek Nah, tengoh g’oreng mi gorengpun dang nye g’oreng k’ite’ (Eloklah tu Mek Nah, sambil menggoreng mi gorengpun sempat dipermainkannya kita semua. / It is so you Mek Nah, even while frying the ‘fried noodles’, you can make fun at us all.)

With all these variations, it is hard to differentiate the right usage of ‘j’etak’ words. Perfection may only come from experience and familiarization. It helps if one is a true blue Terengganuan or been neutralized into one. That requires a fair dose of savoring ‘budu’ , 'ulang' and ‘ikang singgang’.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

some ground rules

Were there ground rules for language ‘slang’? There definitely were; at least in the unwritten way. A study of slangs from Perlis, Kedah down south to Johor or eastward to Kelantan and Terengganu will reveal many an interesting traits. Slangs came about from (believe it or not) a fair distribution of alphabets. Kedahan had to make do without the ‘g’s in their ‘anjin dan kucin’ (cat and dog) because Terengganuan had taken them away for their ‘makang ikang’. Some considerate Terengganuan having exhausted all the g’s into their ‘pinggang dan cawang’ (pinggan dan cawan / saucer and cup) have inadvertently eliminate the g’s from ‘cangkung’ di tepi ‘longkang’ into ‘cankun di tepi lonkan’. Thus those that ‘kontro’ (control) their g’s in trying hard to ‘cakak lua’ (speak in standard external slang) may end ‘jalang-jalang cari ikang goren, ambik pinggang dan cawang, makang cankun tepi lonkan’ (walk about looking for fried fish, take a cup and saucer, squatting to eat by the drain)

pronouncing the ‘k’

The alpabet ‘k’ is also special in Terengganu slang.

‘Bakpe ?’

In Terengganu, the way of pronouncing the ‘k’ as in the ‘bakpe?’ (kenapa/why?) particularly if the ‘k’ is in the middle is almost non-existent. It stand only as a substitute for the apostrophe (‘). Just like ‘Datuk’ was spelled as Dato’; before Sistem Ejaan Baru. So the right way of pronouncing ‘bakpe?’ is ‘ba’pee?’ (The ‘e tanda’ sweetly stretched a little to fade)

pronouncing the ‘g’

It is not at all difficult to detect a Terengganuan and likewise the impostors. Terengganuan, no matter how ‘anglocised’ or ‘luar-ise’ they are, may once in a while slip in a ‘g’ into their ‘ucapang’ (ucapan/speech). The impostors on the other hand found it hard to pronounce the ‘g’ in that specific, ubiquitously unique Terengganu way of pronouncing it. It was hard enough saying it, harder still to write how to pronounce it. Maybe a linguist can but I am not one. The ‘g’ after the ‘n’ in Terengganu slang is not pronounced as a full ‘g’ but somewhere between half to three quarter degree of emphasis. The ‘ng’ spoken almost softly but with a tinge of nasal release. The closest example I can find is saying ‘teng’ (for ‘tin’) to rhyme with ‘ting’ in the older ASB advertisement. Help me ‘any-wang’(anyone)?

the ground

Children have no apprehension of rules. They take to the changes in their environment with ease – language included. My first two were born when we were staying in Shah Alam, while the ‘currently’ last two were born in Terengganu when we moved back home. I am a Terengganu’an, if you may call it while Yati my wife is a Kedah’an. Slang-wise we were at the two end of the spectrum, so it was easier to speak in standard Bahasa Melayu or English when the talk get ‘argumentative’ or ‘romantic’. In the early part of their growing years, my mother in-law, Yati’s mother, her sister, and four kids were staying with us. Across the road, fifty-feet away were my parent house. That provides a setting for a interesting language or slang development. My house has two parts with the kitchen in the middle. We live in the front and the ‘Kedahan’ at the rear. So there were the ‘Terengganu’ zone in my parent home, in my home - ‘standard Bahasa zone in the front and ‘Kedah’ zone at the rear and the kitchen as the neutral zone. So the word ‘mother’ is ‘mok’ in Terengganu zone, ‘mak’ in the neutral zone and ‘maq’ in Kedah zone. ‘Makang ikang’ (eating fish) lost its ‘g’ the moment they cross the road; ‘ayaq’ (water) is diluted to ‘air’ (not udara) the other way round.