On Trengganuspeak and the Spirit of Trengganu

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Malang Yang Mula Mula

This blog is dedicated to Terengganuspeak.

Kecek-kecek in Trengganuspeak has to be shortened to Kkecek, which has two possible meanings. It can mean just chatting, or it can take a more devious form of sweet-talking someone into a trap of your devising. In Terengganu, kena kecek means to be conned, if only in a mild way, as kids bamboozling another to hand over a sweet. Tom Sawyer famously did this by feigning enjoyment when painting the fence, causing others to want to have a go too. His ruse worked: he got someone else to do the work for him. And he'd successfully preyed on that weakness of human nature, of not being able to see someone else having a good time without wanting to take it away from him, or wanting to have a go at it too.

In Terengganuspeak , the shaddah is used often. The shaddah is an Arabic word which I have borrowed to describe this repetition of the consonant to give extra emphasis which changes the meaning of the word, if only slightly. For instance, gocoh in Trengganuspeak can mean to fight someone in a one-sided way, but to ggocoh makes it bilateral, as two kids having a bash at each other. Generally, the shaddah is used to shorten words in everyday speech. The fruit (buah) mempisang, for instance, becomes buah ppisang, and to quarrel, berbalah in standard Malay, becomes bbalah in Terengganu.

I plan to use this site mostly as a repository of my collection of Trengganuspeak, then develop it into a glossary of sorts. There are many things of course that's possible here, humour, news, poetry and prose. This certainly wouldn't be the first blog devoted to Trengganu matters. Out there are many admirable sites. I shall list them as I go along.

The title for this blog is something I remember from my days in Terengganu, or Trengganu, as I prefer to spell it still. The wake of a Muslim funeral in Terengganu was in the ratib, seven nights of supplication and zikr on behalf of the departed. On successive nights, as the bereaved family was beginning to get over the shock, food got better, and friends of the deceased and villagers were treated to a more lavish post-zikr fare, pilau rice, maybe, and dishes of rendang and gulai and more. But on the first night of the ratib, just after the funeral, with the bereaved still unprepared, participants in the ratib were normally served goreng pisang dipped in sugar, with air sirap drink, red as the pallour of a blushing virgin, and sweet in equal measure. So the saying among Terengganu folk, Malam yang mula-mula, goreng pisang dengan gula. In Terengganuspeak it would of course be Malang yang mula-mula...

The similarity, I hope, ends there. The first night is, as expected, pretty spare, with the hope that things will get better. This is not a wake but a celebration of the joy of Terengganu — its cultural wealth, its people, their speech, their humour.

Dah nak wak guane? is Terengganu weltanschauung writ large, made simple, often accompanied by a philosophical shrug. It embraces good-natured fatalism and the ability to accept the inevitable, and then to move on with life — to the sea, to the land, to the hills, to the water...where there's still fish to fry and kangkong to harvest and padi to sow and life to live and later die.

In Terengganu time is a vast span though things will happen in a short while. The sun will rise, the moon will glow, and rain and wind and dust will forever come and go, but time is always there for us to hang our hopes on to. You see houses in Terengganu being raised from the heftiest wood. The roof would rise then covered in the finest tiles from Senggora in Thailand, then the floors would be nailed in and planed smooth, then no more. That's the house for the while on stilts — the outer pillars are there for the wooden slats to be nailed on later to to shut out the world, there's the bedroom, now enclosed in sheets of mengkuang mat to give its occupants some privacy. Sheltered from the sun and rain, and now raised from ground level, work would stop for the while, until another month, another year, when enough resources are available.

I saw many Terengganu houses like that along the coastal roads to Kuala Terengganu, all awaiting completion, all filled with occupants who were in no particular hurry. Do they feel incomplete living in houses unmade, like that?

Dah nak wak guane?

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