Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Movie fans who bothered to read the credits might see the names of Foley Artists responsible for the sound effects in the film. I would think that Terengganu speakers would make good Foley artists because most action words in Terengganuspeak are inevitably followed by an appropriate sound.

Take falling as an example. In Terengganu, things or bodies just do not jatuh (fall). They jatuh bedebok (falls with a thud) no matter how hard the surface is or how high the fall. A stumble sounds more painful. Doesn't reboh bedebing sounds sharper and the receiving surface is hard and unforgiving?

Certain things do not just break, they explode noisily. A bottle of budu (anchovy sauce) absent-mindedly left in the car on a very hot day can pecoh belepong (explode) as easily as an inflated balloon rudely poked with a pin. The poker might be caught by the balloon owner's father or big brother and duly tapo beleping (bitch-slapped) or if the owner is big enough (and angry enough), he himself might tumbok bedebuk (punch) the poker. Some young ballon owners might be just shocked and a short while later nangih berdrohong (wail). In this case, the poker's best course of action is to tembor bedaung and show a clean pair of heels. As for the aforementioned bottle of budu, when the owner of the car opens the door, he/she will be hit by a malodorous smell. He/she can say that he/she bau wa wa (smells something strong).

In Terengganu, running into things is never a silent affair. There is always a noise. Thus langgor gedegang although it is not necessarily the corrugated iron fence that you collide with. Sucking something, either a cold beverage sucked through a straw or a runny nosed young boy sucking in his nasal mucilage give us isap serok serok (suck noisily) much to the displeasure of the prim and proper Miss Emily Post.

I know some of you might be suka gelekek (titter) by this time but unfit me is already leloh bedohor (out of breath). So be my guest and add in your action words (verbs) with the sound added that you have heard spoken in Terengganu.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009
Some cultures have specific name or title for a particular member of the family. A close friend of mine who has Bengali roots is Dada to the children of his sons while his daughter's kids call him Nana and his wife Nani. His brothers' kids call him Chacha and his wife Chahchi while the children of his sisters call him Mamu and his wife Mami.
The Chinese too have specific names for members of the family. The eldest auntie, father's side is called Kuma while the eldest auntie on the mother's side is called Tai Ee (Big Auntie).

Terengganu families are not that rigid or elaborate. The eldest auntie is Mak Long from "Sulong" which is the first. Eldest uncle is Pak Long or Ayoh Long. Another variation is Wa (from the word tua or old). So your eldest auntie is Wa and your eldest uncle is Ayoh Wa. The next older auntie is Mok Ngoh/Chek Ngoh and the uncle is Ayoh Ngoh or Pok Ngoh. This is fairly simple to deduce because the second one is in the middle (tengoh).The youngest sister of your mother is Mok Su (bongsu-youngest) and the youngest brother is Ayoh Su or Pok Su. A variation of Su is Chu as in Mok Chu or Pok Chu.

This works well if your grandparents had only 3 kids. If they had more they were given titles that did not reflect their seniority at all. Some are called Cek Teh because they are fairskinned (putih) or Cek Tam because they are dusky (hitam). Some are even called De (from the word muda) because they are younger but not the youngest. Since uncles too might be called De or Ayoh De, there are aunties in that particular position called De Mek. Unlike the Bengalis or the Chinese, Terengganu Malays use Mak Long for the eldest auntie on both the mother and father's side. To avoid confusions, the auntie's or uncle's name is affixed. Thus we have Mok Long Selamoh or Pak Chu Mang to differentiate them from Mok Long Haji Lijoh or Pak Chu Beraheng.

In extreme cases where one is the only child,your cousin's kids would call you Ngga (from the word tunggal or only one). So to my cousin's children I am Ayoh Ngga- the Lonely One. Lonely shall I retire to ponder why I call my father's younger brother Bah Abang, their late mother Mok Tok and my father's cousin who is younger than me Mok Adik. I have never met my paternal or maternal grandfather. I was born after they were gone. Thus I do n't call them Ki or Tok Ki. Whatever I would call them, I am sure they won't answer.



Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Long before Terengganu was blessed (or cursed - depending on who you talk to) with the discovery of petroleum within her waters, Terengganu folks were already familiar with "minyok".

We used minyok tanoh (kerosene) to light our pelita ayang (oil lamp) or the brighter and noisier pressure lanterns that you have to pump and prime before you get any light. Later on there were "Butterfly" stoves which also ran on minyok tanoh. Some of you might remember being sent to the local provision shop with an empty bottle so that the shopkeeper can gumba (pump) kerosene for you from a square tin that looks like a biscuit tin. The pump itself fascinated many young Terengganu lads. It is simple yet effective. It has only one moving part and that is the rod that you move up and down to get the minyak tanoh flowing from the big tin down the spout to your bottle.

Minyok tanoh is called such to differentiate it from minyok tanok (cooked oil) or minyok nyo (coconut oil) whose source is higher up and far from the tanoh (ground).

As you get closer to Kelantan, minyok tanoh gets to be called minyok gah. There is a famous Lorong Minyok Gah in Kota Baru. I guess minyok gah is from the the English "gas" which in turn is short for gasoline which is not kerosene at all. Gasoline is what Terengganu people call minyok petrol or sometimes called benzine (minyok benzeng). Oil for the engine is called minyok selendar because Terengganu motorists know that the oil lubricates the pistons in the cylinder. Engine oil is also called minyok itang.

Surprisingly, in Terengganu, perfumes are not called minyak wangi but air wangi. Preferences for eau de cologne perhaps? Perfumes used for Friday prayers are called minyok attor (attar) and brilliantine, cream or oil you put on your hair are called minyok rambut (hair oil). The popular brands during my time are Brylcreem, Yardley and for Hindustani fans of both sexes, Zam Zam.

Just like the car that needs change of minyok selendar every now and then, boys that use brilliantine changed oil on their head every few miles.

Underfoot, all the way from Trinidad and her famous Steel Band came minyok tar or asphalt. At one time many drums of asphalt were abandoned on the river bank in front of the Kuala Terengganu Post Office and quite close to Pok Kadir's famous stall. Inevitably, the asphalt found its way out of the rusting drums and onto the soles of Pok Kadir's customers. Some might get stuck to shiny mudguards of motorcycles or the body of some cars. These black stuff were not called minyok tar anymore. Off the road, they were called blakeng and seasoned motorcyclists and motorists cleaned them off with a mixture of minyok tanoh and apah nyo.

It was after a lot of headaches and copious administration of minyok rima (Tiger balm) did I suspect that blakeng came from the English word "blacking". Any other theories welcomed.

(Due to lack of breath and unsuitable voice, there will be no audio version of this post. Apologies.)

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