Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Wednesday, March 15, 2006
This post is in response to a request by Cek Na who commented in my Sitting Pretty post.
Cek Na, who should not be confused with Nina my daughter-in-law, asked about the word songo and songo hamlo.

I have never heard of the word songo hamlo although songo by itself is quite familiar. Maybe Derumo or any other Terengganu native can enlighten us. Songo is an adjective to describe a particular behaviour or attitude. If Tengku Aiman Naim (above) were to do what he did in the picture to anyone else other than the indulgent members of his family like his grandfather, he would be called songo. The closest English word for songo that I can think of is "cheeky". Naim is not the cheeky type, but he can be anything for the camera.
In olden Terengganu where children were to be seen and not heard and expected to behave with a certain decorum, songo borders on rude and punished with a rebuke. The rebuke can either be gentle or otherwise, depending on the gravity of the songo-ness.
You can be forgiven if you have not heard of songo before. Values change. Children nowadays are encouraged to express themselves more than their parents were allowed to. What might be called songo before would be considered cute now.
I have no idea where songo came from. I do not think it is remotely associated with any of the Wali Songo. There is a lake called Songor in Africa which I heard is dying. I do not think the word comes from there because we in Terengganu knew about Africa only after the arrival of Tarzan movies. I would appreciate any illumination on songo's etymology.
Songo reminds me of bango which cannot not stand by itself. Bango, in Terengganuspeak have to follow bising or busuk. Thus we have bising bangor which means a great big din. One day, when all 11 of my grandchildren get together in one room bising bangor will be audibly clear. If the younger ones were to poop all at the same time, the whole room will be rendered busuk bangor.
My grandchildren's paternal great grandmother used to amuse me with a ditty:

Perok, Kedoh, Selangor
Berok, sudoh, busuk bangor.

Now you know where I got my warped sense of humour.

Naim in a non-songo pose.