On Trengganuspeak and the Spirit of Trengganu

Friday, December 31, 2004

Gonen With the Wind

There were Turkish janizaries in Kelantan, they came when the last Sultan was deposed to – of all place - Salonika. Attaturk too came from there, but that’s another story, long in the tooth.

On a note of interest, the Sultan was taken in a frigate called HMS Malaya, whose insignia was last seen hanging in the old Malaysia Hall, in Londra. Its bell, I hear, is dangling in a public school in Blighty. Malaysia Hall the new — also known as Hotel Malaysia — is now dangling in the middle of nowhere, metaphorically and semi-literally. And that, too, is another story, flush with money, short of sight.

Well, I thought — who knows — goneng may have been a derivative of some Turkish word, come ashore through bald janizaries residing in Kelantan. So I consulted my friend, a Malaysian who’s adept in the Turkish tongue, and this is what he said:
"As far as I know there's no Turkish word such as “goneng” — the Turkic language does not have many words ending with eng/ing as a rule. The only possibility is the word gonmek (infinitive) which means to send; a derivative is gonen which means "sending"; I don't think the Trengganu word was derived from this."

And so, that’s that. Is there anyone out there who can shed more light?

Meantime, I've added another word to the 'C' list below. It's ccirik. Ccirik is a little insect, almost like the roach, but lighter of colour and longer of legs. Cciriks lived in the cracks of houses, and could've been cirik-cirik or cecirik in bygone times. In Terengganu, words are compressed to make them float lighter on the tongue. The cciriks must've suffered that.

With Ru My Heart Is Laden

Of the C words, I like ccokoh best. Ccokoh is a way of being, a presence that sticks out, perhaps not like a sore thumb, but prominent enough as to be noticed. Once, in a long distance telephone conversation, I asked after someone, and the answer I got was, "Tu, ada dok ccokoh tu!" It was a description so evocative as to be hilarious. Dok ccokoh, or duduk ccokoh says that not only is the person there, but that s/he also stands out in the crowd. The opposite of duduk ccokoh is probably duduk ngenda'. The latter is easy for neophytes of Terengganuspeak, as ngenda' is just the Terengganu rendition of the standard Malay menghendap, i.e. to hide, or to conceal oneself. In these sentences, "Dia tu tiak-tiak hari dok ccokoh di keda kopi." [He's there everyday in the coffee shop.] "Ambo, mung ni dok ngenda' duane lame dak napok?" [Goodness, you've not been seen for a while, where've you been hiding?] both ccokoh and ngenda' give added value to the spoken words.

The second line of enquiry may be something I'd like to ask of the cik ru that you'll find in the list below. Cik ru is probably the only insect I know that carries an honorific; the other is the Pak Kor, which is not an insect, but a variety of nodding lizard, hence its full name, Pak Kor Anggok. I've not seen or heard of the Mak Kor but I suspect they do exist; otherwise, how's the Pak Kor to increase its tribe?

But back to Cik Ru, which brings back memories of sandy soil and the world among the stilts, beneath a Terengganu house. As I remember it, cik ru was a little six-legged work only slightly smaller than your average household spider, but it was a creature of the sandy earth. The children of Terengganu, or those who knew, thought nothing of spending a few hours of cik ru hunting in broad daylight, beneath a house. The main characteristic of the cik ru was that it was completely and utterly useless once caught, as it neither fought nor did it do tricks to amuse, unlike the kkabor jjetik, the green tapping beetle that went tap-a-tap-tap on the match-box. The cik ru remained in the match-box while the hunter-child spent another hour, maybe two, engrossed in the business of doing a loop in a strand of hair to tether the cik ru with. Which, actually, was the real test of the job, as hunting the cik ru was easy as they weren't very good at ngenda', being a creature that buried itself deep in sandy soil and leaving a dip like an inverted pyramid in the sand directly above its house.

I speak of the cik ru in the past tense of course, because, I think now, they're up there somewhere with the dodo and the teh cap buah. So now, the 'c' words then for you to read while you reflect sadly on the cik ru's past.
ccandat [c. sotong]
ccatung [masang cc.]
celober [carek c.]
cik ru
cok [jilak c.]

If you know other 'c' Terengganu words, you're more than welcome to add them in the space for comments below. When I have time in between my cik ru hunting I shall gladly include them, if appropriate, to the list above.

For further notes on ccandat, please visit this goldmine of Terengganuspeak, Di Bawah Rang Ikang Kering

Gi mmolek; dok bbaik. Go placidly now, be well.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Kecek, kkecek, kecek-kecek

I may have stirred a hornet's nest with kecek-kecek. A Kedahan claims it, a Sumatran claims it, and now of course, Pok Ku, always insightful, has put it in its proper place insofar as it's a Terengganu word. I may have been influenced by my Besut heritage when looking to kecek, but looking back now, I do agree that in the Kuala Trengganu of my day, it was used only in the sense suggested by Pok Ku. My Mum though, used to say, "Mari nak kkecek sikik," as a prelude to straight talk. But here she was using it with the shaddah that I spoke about.

I suspect that the sense of kecek in Kedah isn't very different from Terengganu's. If you have to kecek someone in order to plead, especially your Mum, you’d have to be extra imaginative in your pleading. I smell a bamboozle there. Also, there were many Kelantanese working in the padi fields of Alor Setar, is there a connection there? Perhaps someone will enlighten us.

Back to Pok Ku again — always a delight to meet you, sir. Thanks for the variation of sok-sik. Would sok-sek have been used as an equivalent to the standard desas-desus? I’ve also heard people say, of some aggrieved soul, "Tu dia dok nnangih, sok-sek, sok-sek." I suppose that's the problem with onomatopoeic words, you takes your sound and you fits your mood.

Of course, Pok Ku, you’re very welcome to link to Kecek-Kecek. It'd be a great honour for me, and a useful dialogue, I hope, between people who are entranced by Terengganu as she is spoke. Very soon I hope to link to other Terengganu-inclined blogs too so that we’ll be able to form a community of words.

Pak Adib has sent me an email asking how I got the name Awang Goneng, and here I welcome any help from Pok Ku or anyone else who can shed some light. The name disappeared from my head for many years, then popped up again when I was thinking of someone to host the Kecek-Kecek page. It was probably the name of an old Terengganu folk hero, maybe in picaresque. But Pok Ku will tell you more about this: whenever I try to imagine Awang Goneng against the Terengganu backdrop, I keep coming up with Mamat Ppala Kerah. (Mamat Kepala Keras).

So, Pak Adib, I'm sorry I need help here myself. Maybe Pok Ku will now jump into the nearest phone booth, put his underpants over his tights, and come quickly to our aid.

For comments on kecek-kecek, please click here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Kecek Sumatra

My correspondent from Sumatra, Mr Mulyadi, emailed this note:
Mengenai kata "kecek"di dalam bahasa Minang artinya "berkata". Jadi kalau "kecek-kecek" berarti "berkata-kata" atau bercakap-cakap. Bisa juga berarti perkataan dalam pembahasan yang ringan-ringan saja atau semacam gurauan.
This is a surprise because in peninsular Malaysia, as far as I know, kecek is used only in Terengganu and Kelantan to mean light conversation or bamboozle. In Terengganu, kkecek means chit-chat, whilst kecek is to dupe by speech. Kecek-kecek is what people do when they talk about this and that, just as Mr Mulyadi says it is in Sumatra. And he adds [above]:
"It can also take the sense of a light conversation or as in a banter."
Thank you Mr Mulyadi for enlightening us. It goes to prove that Trengganuspeak has echoes, even if it's miles away.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Rumplestiltskin Word

Of the words that evoke pain, kkekeng-ssoyokRumplestiltskin. is the most gruesome for its Rumplestiltskin effect. The words are not meant to do that in the first place, they merely state a condition, in this case, of someone sitting with legs so apart that it's indecent. So it is normally used of ladies, who sit with legs going in opposite directions. Whilst men sit with knees apart, and the lower legs folded and placed one atop the other, as in bersila, Malay ladies do not; they sit with knees together, pulled to one side, and then the lower legs bent and folded together and pulled back to touch one cheek of the buttocks. This is the bertimpuh, berselimpuh, or betelimpuh position. So kkekeng-ssoyok states an act and the (possible) end result: kkekeng, to sit or stand with legs wide apart, and ssoyok, ripped, torn, as happened to our man in the fairy story when his name was discovered.

So, Hisy, Mek, mu ning dok kkekeng-ssoyok, napok dak jjuruh sungguh. Dok gak mmolek sikik! is both an admonition and a recommendation. "My girl, you're siiting with legs so wide apart it's obscene. Do sit properly, will you?" The double consonanted kkekeng here denotes something being in the state of, in this case, kekeng. Kekeng is to pull the legs apart; kkekeng, being in that state. The resulting shaddah sound here is akin to the terin standard Malay, as in rumah terbuka where the ter added to buka (open) indicates that the door to the house is in that state of being open. I have mentioned the shaddah in Terengganu before, but have not yet looked fully into what it does to the meaning of a word. What we've just seen here is just one of its functions, and there are many, many more...

Back to kkekeng-ssoyok, the double 's' in ssoyok performs much the same function, i.e. to show that the person is in that state already, though here it's a mere exaggeration for the sake of effect. A hyperbole.

Kkekeng-ssoyok also reminds me of a ghost that reputedly stood astride the gateway of the old Istana Maziah in Kuala Trengganu. It came after midnight, and, for reasons of its own, stood there for like that. Well, to each, its own.

Now, graphic though kkekeng ssoyok may be, I am at a loss when it comes to finding it a name. Some tell me it's very much like hitam legam of standard Malay, used to describe the degree of blackness (hitam). Hitam legam is not just black, but very black. I'm told it is perkataan berganda which is a form of multiplier effect — gunung ganang, bukit bukau...but hitam legam, kkekeng ssoyok? I find it hard to think so, because, to me, the legam and ssoyok merely intensify the state of the hitam and kkekeng respectively. So can't they just be called kata memperi, i.e. words that show the state of...?

Here are more Terengganu words that come with tag-along words that do just that — muda jjetik, kuning ssiyor, besar jeregu', tajam landat.

I mentioned in an earlier blog, onomatopoeia words that could have truly originated from Trengganu (the rest could've been washed ashore in times past, who knows?). I've just thought of a few more: gerudung-gerapak, sok-sik, koteng-koteng, cakting-cakting, bok-bek, tak-tak, bbobek, bbobok.

Gi mmolek, amang sokmo! Go placidly, peace always!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Terengganu Speaks

This blog started only recently under cover of night. But even then I'm surprised someone's found her way to it. Thank you lion3ss (see comments, Beginning Words) for your very helpful contribution and comment.

Ateng is tagging along, in a venture maybe, or even in a journey. Say, a group's engaged in the kutu fund, and some late-comer also wants to join in. No Trengganuer would be so brash as to ask to be included, but s/he would sidle along and say, in a self-effacing manner, "Buleh ateng ssorang?" ("Can I also join in?"). The answer would be, "Oh, buleh ddo'oh!" ("Why, yes, of course!"). A rejection would be something like, "Takmboh eh, mung ning dulu sengelak so'mo." ("No way, you were a cheat weren't you?"), or simply, "Dak leh, dak leh." ("Aroint thee, witch!" to quote the Terengganu Bard.).

And welcome too Pok Ku (see comments, Is Ssaneh a Fruit?). I'm honoured. You can read lion3ss herself at her World..., and Pok Ku's at Di Bawah Rang Ikang Kering, of course. These are two fine Terengganu blogs. Terima kasih bbanyok!

Is Ssaneh A Fruit?

These past days I've been bothered by ssaneh though I can't quite remember what it is (was). Does anyone know? Vaguely it seems to me to be a kind of condiment, or a sweetmeat, or even some preserved fruit. And oh, don't you remember them. There was one that came in a karong, a sack made from dried mengkuang leaves or some other suitable weavable mats, and was red in colour, with little seeds that you spat out in all directions. Funnily enough there isn't a surfeit of trees or bushes from these seeds in the nooks and corners of Kuala Terengganu town. There was also the buah kerecut some shrivelled chinese dates, the flattened, mouldy old buah ssemak, tough as leather and encased in some fine old dust. This one's easy, it's what's known as the kaki fruit, or pisang kaki as we knew it. Persimmon, to those who have College education. The buah ssemak was sliced and boiled in Lencikang (Len Chee Kang?) and best taken piping hot. Lencikang has a few other things too bobbing up and down within, one is buah kerecut, the others I dare not think.

But over to B then, the B of Terengganu words that spring to mind —

bang [b. dengar]
bbolok, bbolo'
bedela [besi b.]
berok, bero' [bunyi]
butir [b. Mak Mah]

Monday, December 13, 2004

No Word is an Island

Of course it's presumptuous to think that there are Terengganu words and words at large that are adapted for Terengganuspeak. The latter is the safer option, as it'd be churlish to presume that Terengganu is an island, isolated from the rest of the Nusantara, or the world at large. Even islanders are not immune from the drift of words from beyond, and indeed, many islanders did come from beyond. Non Trengganu people puzzle at words like lembek, gocoh, ggogeh that seem to be exclusively Terengganu, or, at least, East Coast. Their origins may have been lost in the fog of time, but some, surprisingly have echoes still outside the state.

Mas Kupang of TerengganuTake kokok for instance, an evocative word to describe the scraping of something hard with something sharp. This sounds and feels Terengganu, but is it? Winstedt lists mengokot as to claw (as a cat), scrape (as a fowl); giving kokot as a bent hook. Then there's pitis for a unit of coinage that is not heard outside Terengganu and Kelantan. I remember seeing it though, in an Indonesian dictionary long before I became interested in words, but that settled it for me even then, that pitis had an outside provenance, but where? Winstedt has an answer to that too, pitis is of Chinese origin, and it was used to describe a very small coin with a hole in the centre, worth less than a half-penny. Anyone out there know what Chinese dialect uses it still? Then there's the keneri [kenderi], the amas, and the dek. And the riyal, of course, which was still very much in use when I was still living in Terengganu, to describe what was then generally known as a dollar, or, nowadays, the ringgit. It is easy to guess where the riyal came from, but whence the origin of the ringgit of standard Malay? The ringgit is a silver dollar, says Winstedt, and beringgit-ringgit is serrated, as of hills.

Of the above, the dek puzzles me. If I'm not mistaken, its value was half a cent. Terengganuers in abject poverty would say, "Aku basat terre, takdok se dek pong!" I'm skint, I don't have a half-penny on me!

Mas Kupang of TerengganuThere are, though, words in Terengganuspeak that may have originated there, and those are the onomatopoeic sounds. My mother used to say Gerudung geradang balik pucung. I'm not sure what — or where — balik pucung is, but gerudung geradang is onomatopoeic all right. I remember a few more, kok-kek, kok-kek (to describe a recurring tinkering sound in some daily chore); kiik-kiik the sound of tittering children, and gerudung gerapok as of many people scrambling for cover, in a wooden house probably. We had a man who did our laundry in Kuala Trengganu ( I revert to old spelling as this was way back then), named Tun Long, who hailed from Kuala Berang (Kuala Brang as was), and one day he very succintly described to me the sound of rain. Hujang wek-wek, he said, which filled me with much amazement. When I reported this to my elders, they dismissed it by saying, "Oh, he's from Kuala Berang." It came back to me later in life in another form, from the mouth of Basil Fawlty when dismissing the insane antics of his Spanish Manuel: "Oh, he's from Barcelona, you know." Though Barcelona of course, is a million miles from Kuala Berang.

Coins above: The Mas Kupang or Terengganu gold coins. These came from the reign of Sultan Zainal Abidin Shah II (1793-1808).

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Beginning Words

I sat down trying to think of all the Terengganu words beginning with A because that's where it begins — though not everything in Terengganu begins at the beginning. Perhaps this is because in a kampung everyone's multi-tasking; something starts from E, and then develops into G before getting back to A where everything supposedly begins, at the beginning.

But A is a good place to start. Why do I have so few words beginning with A?

acu [a. pisau]
acu [a. cuba terai]
arong [telor a.]