Friday, May 11, 2007

New Slang

Rolfo says that only I would get a pick-me-up out of learning new slang; I contend that if everyone knew what slang usage I was referring to, they, too, would find it almost unspeakably cool.

I stumbled across the construction in question on a t-shirt in Yogya; I was so enchanted by the words that I bought the t-shirt. (Because, really, isn’t cool slang worth a dollar?) It says, in so many words, saya ndak suka situ mbaca-baca tulisan ini. Kalo situ pengin mbeli aja sendiri, or, in translation, “I don’t like you reading this writing. If you want to, buy one yourself.”

Clever enough. The whole thing is very informal language: ndak is the central Javan adaptation of tidak, or “no”; kalo and pengin reflect recent vowel shifts in their spelling; mbaca-baca and mbeli are significant in that they use the Javanese verbal prefix N-, an assimilating nasal, instead of the more formal Indonesian meN-; aja is an informal version of saja, having, as is common in spoken Indonesian, dropped the initial s.

But all that is old slang, at least to me. The thing that really caught my eye was the word I translated as "you": situ. It's not technically a personal pronoun at all, but a term of spatial deixis. It means, literally, "there." So, again, "I don't like there reading this writing. If there wants to, buy one thereself."

Neat, huh? I mean, personal pronouns are a type of deixis, but spatial and social deixis are typically not so interchangeable. (Does anyone know another language that does this?) Apparently, though—and I’ve done my reading now—using “here” and “there” for “I” and “you” is becoming common in Indonesian youth language. Those crazy Indonesian youth! Here finds their language fascinating. Doesn't there?


Rolfo said...

Dude, that was totally a only-barely-veiled self-critique for teasing you for something which I do myself (in copious, page-upon-page amounts). But hey, it earned me a special mention, so I'll sit and be content in my low-level fame.

Petra said...


No worries, I got it. Your comment was mainly just a convenient segue into what I really wanted to talk about, language. I would have written the post anyway, but you gave me the chance to look relevant, for which I should thank you.


Tolkien Boy said...

In the style of Mr. Fob, I had spacial deixis with there's mom last night.

Melyngoch said...

I love Swedish. I really do. But Indonesian is so much cooler.