Friday, 3 June 2011


                                                    Words W O R D S words wORdswords

It is interesting what one word means to one person and another to another person. "Busuk"(smelly) can be an endearment when, for example, a grandmother calls her grandchild that. But, taking the meaning literally, the child might not understand it that way, and take it as an insult, which could create quite an endearing problem to both. My niece, who used to be left at her paternal grandmother's house while both parents went to work used to then complain that the grandmother was "busuk".

Last week, a 20 something Indonesian came to the house in search of work. Already having my weekly, I had a sudden brainwave and got her to do the dreaded weeding which the garden badly needed. She did a good job in the two hours she spent digging at the roots, raking dry leaves and loosening up the base of my neglected plants. So when I asked if she would be able to work again the next day, she replied "Kalau awak senang, awak datanglah". I quickly understood what it meant. It reminded me too of a pantun my grandmother would rattle off if I compalined about any of my siblings:

                  Kata dulang paku serpih,
                  Kata orang aku yang lebih.

It is understood that "aku" in the last line means "awak"(you) and not "aku" as in I. 

In the Pahang dialect, "awak" is very commonly used among people of any age. It is pronounced as "awok" or written as "aok" in FB-speak among my nephews. However, it is to me impolite to refer to an older person "awak".

No comments:

Blog Archive