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Ketiban Sampur: A Javanese Idiom

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I WAS BUT shocked when a fellow member of NBC (Nasi Bungkus Community) told me one Friday morning, "Masbro, sampean ketiban sampur ya. Dadi ketua panitia kurban." This is how her sentence would sound in English, "Ya bro, you're ketiban sampur. You've been appointed to be the head committee of kurban."
Our short conversation reminds me of a long forgotten idiom in Javanese. Ketiban sampur is a Javanese idiomatic expression that denotes a condition when someone is assigned to carry particular responsibility which he does not desire or expect. 

The origin of ketiban sampur Ketiban sampur is derived from a dance party known as tayub. The phrase is composed of two main words: ketiban and sampur. Ketiban indicates an unexpected windfall whereas sampur refers to the shawl worn by female dancers in the tayub. The narrow and long shawl is normally placed over their shoulders or tied to their hips when dancing. Accompanied by traditional instrument called gamelan, the d…

Alasan Kenapa Kita Harus Melestarikan Bahasa Daerah

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"Enak ya kamu, Rud, bisa ngomong beberapa bahasa berbeda!" ujar seorang teman, bule asal Belgia dalam bahasa Inggris. Wajahnya jelas menunjukkan antusiasme dan kekaguman pada saya dan seorang teman wanita yang akan ia persunting sebagai istri. Percakapan itu berlangsung di teras rumah mungil di pinggiran kota Semarang belasan tahun silam. Saya dan teman berbicara pakai tiga bahasa sekaligus: Inggris (yang juga dipahami si bule), Indonesia, dan tentu saja bahasa Jawa bahasa ibu kami.Bahasa terakhirlah yang membuatnya takjub. Di Belgia, menurut pengakuannya, mereka tak punya bahasa ibu seperti kita di Indonesia. Belum lagi bahasa Minang, Sunda, Papua, Madura, dan entah berapa lagi bahasa daerah yang digunakan di tanah air. Sebuah sumber menyebutkan setidaknya ada 300 bahasa pribumi yang digunakan dalam percakapan di seluruh Nusantara. Bukanlah itu fakta luar biasa?
Alih-alih bahasa Belgia, warga negara itu berbicara dalam tiga bahasa yakni Belanda, Perancis, dan Jerman. Fakta i…

Silah-silahing Tembung aka Part of Speech in Javanese

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Word is a primary component of a sentence. Without any words, a sentence cannot be produced so we won’t be able to speak or write it. In this sense, silah-silahing tembung serves a significant role to help us compose a good sentence. In Javanese, the part of speech goes as follows.Tembung Aran (Noun) such as buku (book), suket (grass), omah (house), kelasa (mat), etc. For instance: Mimi wes nggelar kelasa ing latar. / Mimi has spread out a mat in the yard.    
Tembung Kriya (Verb) such as maca (read), ngombe (drink), mlaku (walk), jiwit (pinch), ambung (kiss), mangkat (depart), etc.   For instance: Isuk mau Mulyono mlaku nang sawah. / Mulyono walked to the field this morning. 
Tembung Ganti (Pronoun) such as aku (I), kowe (you), deweke (he/she), etc. For instance: Kowe opo ngerti omah kancamu kuwi? / Do you know where your friend lives? 
Tembung Wilangan (Numeral) such as siji (one), sanga (nine), akeh (many/much), setengah (half), saithik (a little), etc. For instance: Sekolah iku nduwe sis…

Silah-silahing Katrangan or Types of Adverb

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In the previous post I have presented how words are arranged in a sentence based on their function as subject, predicate, object, and adverb. In this post I am going to explain types of adverb in Javanese along with examples to make them clear.1. Katrangan sebab It is the adverb that tells why something happens. We may call it adverb of cause. For instances: - Kasman ora Melu rapat amarga lara. / Kasman was absent in the meeting due to sickness. - Paijo ora nyambut gawe amarga isih cilik. / Paijo doesn't go to work because he is still a child.
2. Katrangan ancas It is the adverb that explains what is intended by something when it is carried out. We thus call this adverb of purpose. For examples: Ayu nyapu latar supaya resik. / Ayu sweeps the floor to make it clean. Bumi sinau sregep supaya lulus ujian. / Bumi studies hard in order to pass the exam.

3. Katrangan kahanan Kahanan means condition or situation. By this definition, it can be inferrred that katrangan kahanan tells the traits or …

Understanding Ayahane Tembung aka Word Order in Javanese Sentence

Ayahane tembung, or known as lungguhing tembung, indicates how words are arranged in a sentence based on its function. In other words, parsing a sentence based on its ayahane tembung means to distinguish which one is the jejer, the wasesa, the lesan, and the katrangan. In English, jejer equals the subject, wasesa the predicate, lesan the object, and katrangan the adverb.Let us observe the following examples.
1. Dimas tuku gulo esuk mau. / Dimas bought some sugar this morning. 2. Gendon maca buku ing jero kelas. / Gendon is reading a book in the classroom. 3. Pak Marwan ngrantos Pak Lurah wonten pendopo. / Mr. Marwan is waiting for the village head in the hall.
In the first example, the sentence is in the past as indicated by adverb of time esuk mau that means this morning. In the second sentence, it is clear that a boy named Gendon is in the classroom reading a book. Like the previous examples, the last sentence is also a complete sentence consisting of a jejer, wasesa, lesan, and katrang…

The Structure of Javanese Sentence

The structure of a sentence in Javanese normally follows the standard pattern of sentences in Indonesian as well as in English. So the syntax is quite simple and clear-cut. It commonly starts with a subject, followed by a predicate, and ends with an object where necessary. It is important to note that Javanese knows no tense like that found in English. Composing a sentence in Javanese is therefore relatively easy since there is no change of verbs that requires strong memory and concentration. The effort may be in amassing vocabularies in order to produce creative and authentic sentences. Let's see some examples below.
1. Aku mangan gedang. / I eat a banana. 2. Bapa sare wonten ndalem. / Daddy is sleeping in the house. 3. Saiki aku lesu. / I am hungry now. 4. Bedjo wingi tuku lengo. / Bedjo bought some oil yesterday. 5. Konco-konco arep menyang Jogja menesuk. / My friends are leaving for Jogja tomorrow. 6. Sugeng seneng nggambar. / Sugeng loves drawing.
The examples above indicate the use…

Ojo Cedak Kebo Gupak

MY WIFE AND I were a bit alarmed when Pak Rajin (not real name—literally means Mr. Diligent) hadn’t shown up for two weeks now. It is his habit to come over as other people in the neighborhood have relied on him too to clean up their garden. As for us, we sometimes asked him to buy flowers to replace the old ones. Now we’re wondering why the diligent man who speaks a little has seemed to disappear. We would like to assume he has returned home to his village since rice crop is progressing. It’s likely he is harvesting paddy in his own fields or his neighbors’.
When he finally showed up two weeks later, I immediately invited him to clean up our yard. Dried leaves and long lawn are everywhere.
“I haven’t seen you for a while now. Have you been home?” I asked.
He smiled and replied, “I was but jailed, sir.”
My wife and I were shocked. “Don’t be kidding! Why on earth were you jailed?”
He told us he was watching his neighbors gambling when policemen came to arrest him. He was alleged to join the…