Thursday, 4 October 2012

Nyarios Sunda

My husband's family hailed from Kelantan, one of the 9 states in Malaysia bordering with Thailand.  The Kelantanese culture, food and language are very different from other parts of Malaysia because they are heavily influenced by Thai.

All my in-laws have been living in Kuala Lumpur for more than 20 years but the connection with Kelantan is still very thick. Although fluent in both English and Bahasa Malaysia, my mother-in-law still talks in Kelantanese dialect, cooks and eats Kelantanese food (at least once a week) and uses the old traditional Kelantanese remedies when any of us gets sick (minyak mestika has always been in our cabinet).

When I first got married, everytime I met our Kelantanese relatives I would smile and smile and smile without uttering a single word.  I couldn't understand a single word they said.  They must be thinking that I was a very nice polite friendly "menantu" who loved to smile and didn't talk back even when they said bad things... (.... eeerrr... or maybe a stupid mute indon girl who only knew how to smile)

Over the years I learned more about the language.  I can understand it  much better than most people who live in Kuala Lumpur.  Although I can't really converse properly, I can understand 95% of Kelantanese conversation.  I grew to like their food and I learned to eat everything using my hands (without cutleries).  I could even eat the laksa using my bare fingers. Seriously...!!

My family was born and grew up in Bandung, the capital of West Java. Like Kelantanese, the people live in West Java have their own culture, food and tradition that are very different from other parts of Indonesia. All of us grew up speaking Sundanese, eating staple Sundanese food of nasi timbel, pepes tahu, ayam bakar, jambal roti and sambel terasi.  When we get sick, like all Sundanese, we always blame it on "masuk angin" (too much wind trapped in our bodies) or "panas dalam" (too much heat trapped in our bodies).  My husband once told me that it must be very easy to be a doctor in Bandung because there are only 2 major illnesses there.

Both my husband and I keep our mother tongues and traditions alive.  Until now I still speak in Bahasa Sunda with some of my friends and relatives.  Sometimes when I speak Bahasa Indonesia, it is heavily spiked with the Sundanese accent.  My friends used to make fun of me.  One of them even asked if I really went to US and lived there because I spoke like I just came back from Garut (a small town in West Java where everything is still very traditional).

I feel sad when the younger generations refuse to speak Bahasa Sunda.  They want to appear "Modern" by talking only in Bahasa Indonesia and English.  They think Bahasa Sunda is "kampung" and "not cool".  They think it is a useless language because it's only spoken in West Java.  They don't know that according to Wikipedia, Bahasa Sunda is spoken by 27 million people...!! More than Swedish (spoken by 10  million people).

I firmly believe that dialects have to be preserved.  The language, food and tradition of every culture should be kept alive.  It makes the world more interesting.  Imagine if everyone in the world speaks only English or Mandarin or Bahasa Indonesia or Spanish. It's really boring. isn't it? 

Every language is unique.  Not everything can be translated to English.  There are so many things in Bahasa Sunda that can't be translated to other language.  Until now I still can't find the right Bahasa Indonesia or English to translate or even describe the words "cileupeung" and "pikasebeleun". Sundanese use those words all the time and there is no word that can perfectly describe what they mean in other language.  Sundanese language is so rich and complex.  It is such a shame if urban kids in Bandung refuse to use it. 

Last year I went to this Indonesian restaurant in Kuala Lumpur for some Bakso (beef ball soup).  While I was waiting for my Bakso, I asked the waiter where he came from.  He said he came from Sukabumi.  Sukabumi is a small town 3 hours drive from my hometown.

Then I told him, "Mun ti Sukabumi mah tiasa atuh nyarios Sunda" (Since you are from Sukabumi, we can talk in Sundanese)

His reply, "Maaf, saya sudah lama kat sini, dah lupa Bahasa Sunda." (Sorry, I have been living here for a long time, I have forgotten Bahasa Sunda)

I asked him, "Memangnya sudah berapa lama tinggal di Malaysia?" (How long have you been living in Malaysia?)

His reply, "Sudah lama, sekitar 2 tahun." (Long time, 2 years already)

Aaaarggghhhh.... I feel like doing this to him....

Ciaaaatttttt...... (KICK his head)

Dzziiiiiiiiiiiiiiggggghhhhhh........ (and then SMACK his head)

He really annoyed me....!!

My only explanation why he has forgotten his mother language is because his brain is the size of a pea pod so he has to delete some memories to accomodate incoming new data. 

That's why I need to kick his head to make his brain swell into a normal size and then smack it to bring his conscious back..... Yes??

1 comment:

  1. Very true, dialect are unique languages. Just like the Chinese, we have Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien, Teowchew and so many more. I could understand other dialects but when I need to speak I have to think and go slow as I sometime got it all mix up like rojak. Kinda funny at times. Happy blogging to you. Did you know that our Sun had a rainbow ring around it last week? Come over and see the photo that I had taken.


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