Thu, 04 Dec 2003

Are you in 'mudical' mood?

During the recent Lebaran festivities marking the end of the fasting month, I spent, unintentionally, more time than usual wondering why many English words have infiltrated Bahasa Indonesia.

I discovered that the answer was simply because there are no substitutes for them. Street vendors and linguists have not tried to call "tissue" by any other names but tisu as an economic necessity due to competition and not kertas penyeka (cleaning paper), for instance.

I was amused to discover that the media here are willing to call a reporter just a "reporter" instead of, peliput from the verb meliput to cover in journalistic terms. "Reporter" sounds alike and is spelled in the same way, unlike marka, as in street marks for preventing road accidents.

Foreign house wives had to cope with the absence of their maids or cooks during Lebaran because almost all of them had been given permission to go mudik, to go to their villages for a family get-together as the Lebaran tradition calls for. At this point, I came up with an interesting idea just to keep the balance in the exchange of words between Bahasa Indonesia and English.

Why do we not take over the word mudik and spell it mudic to be pronounced myudic to make it sound like Indonesian-English if we are homesick and urgently want to meet our relatives. Mudic for a new English word is acceptable because it sounds like music. Of course, don't associate it with "nude" (less with nudist!).

So Indonesians trying to sound English may ask their foreign guests who want to travel to their homelands to meet their families over Christmas or New Year: "Are you in mudical mood? In other words, are you very homesick and urgently must see the green-green grass of home and long to meet familiar faces? The suggestion to use the word mudic may only be acceptable to those foreigners having spent some time in Indonesia.

I like to suggest purists in Bahasa among the media people change "reporter" into repoter (without "r" ). While the Indonesian word repot means very busy, doing a particular job or all kinds of jobs, which is true for any reporter.