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 dancers will be dancing through the party and randomly pick a male guest to join them. The selection is made by placing a colorful shawl around his neck. The one receiving the shawl is called ketiban sampur as he has no idea he'll be selected.

Whenever you are assigned to something you must handle or a duty to complete but you actually never expect it, then you are ketiban sampur. While you can typically deny it, completing the task will be of great value.        

"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 ini membuatnya takjub terhadap orang Indonesia yang setidaknya menguasai dua bahasa, yakni bahasa daerah dan bahasa Indonesia. Belum lagi kalau ia menguasai bahasa asing, seperti Inggris, Jepang, Arab, Mandarin, Spanyol, dan lain sebagainya. Tentunya kemampuan berbahasa orang Indonesia layak diacungi jempol.

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 siswa akeh. / That school has many students.

Tembung Sipat (Adjective) such as apik (good), angel (difficult), mangkel (irritated), seneng (happy), etc.  
For instance: Soal matematika iki pancen angel. / This math is really difficult to solve.  

Tembung Katrangan (Adverb) such as kene (here), lor (north), nisor (below), pinggir (edge), kiwa (left-hand), etc.  
For instance: Candra arep turu kene. / Candra will be sleeping here.

Tembung Pangguwuh (Exclamation) such as wah (wow), aduh (oh my), tulung (please), etc. 
For instance: Aduh, bukuku ketinggalan nang omah! / Oh my, I’ve left my book at home.  

Tembung Sandhangan (Attribute) such as Sang (The...), Raden (social status), Kyai, etc.
For instance: Pak Waluyo Sang Pahlawan mpun rawuh. / Mr. Waluyo the hero has arrived.  

Tembung Panyambung (Conjunction) such as sarta (as well as), lan (and), mulane (therefore), etc.
For instance: Bagas lan Dimas sinau basa Jawa ing jero kelas. / Bagas and Dimas are studying Javanese in the classroom.

Tembung Pangarep (Preposition) such as sing (that), saka (from), menyang (to), ing (on/in), etc.
For instances
- Wingi Kastolan tuku sepeda saka kancane. / Kastolan bought a bike from his friend yesterday.  
- Siti mulih menyang Jakarta menesuk. / Siti is going to Jakarta tomorrow. 

sepeda in Javanese


Understanding types of word in Javanese will make you more capable of composing a good sentence as well as make you more confident in arranging various words into a more meaningful sentence. I suppose you can make one now right?

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 adjective to complement the subject.
For instances:
  • Omahe Waluyo reged amarga ora tahu diresiki. / Waluyo's house is dirty as he never cleans it. (Reged means dirty and is an adjective to tell readers the condition of Waluyo's house.)
  • Roti sing dituku Beni kasar. / The bread Beni has bought is rough. (Kasar means rough and is used to tell us the surface of the bread.)

That is all for now. The learning is getting more and more fun, right? Drop a comment if you have any questions.
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 katrangan.

What differs the third from the previous two is the use of krama inggil to show some respect or veneration to the people mentioned. Both Mr. Marwan who is a teacher and the village head are considered important in terms of social status so they deserve the highest degree of politeness called krama inggil.  

While esuk mau belongs to adverb of time, ing jero kelas and wonten pendopo are included in adverb of place. In addition, there are also adverb of cause (katrangan sebab), adverb of purpose (katrangan ancas), and adverb of condition (katrangan kahanan). I will discuss these adverbs later in the following post.

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 of common construction of Javanese sentences. As for adverb of time, it can occur before (as in sentence number 3; saiki means now) or after the subject (example number 4; wingi means yesterday. Alternatively, it can also come at the end of a sentence (example number 5; menesuk means tomorrow). 

How about adverb of place? It normally comes at the end of the sentence as seen in the second sentence: wonten ndalem (in the house). If you have any questions, drop a comment so that I can respond later.


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 bet in the game. Taken to the nearest police station, he was declared guilty and sent to prison for two months.

“How ill-fated had I been, sir! I was there but to watch,” said he groaning. I couldn’t buy his words completely. I’m convinced he’s got something to conceal. He might have been in the game as well due to the temptation to get money effortlessly.

“Don’t you ever read ojo cedak kebo gupak by the way?”

“What does that mean, sir?” While he’s younger than me, it’s clear he seemed to be unfamiliar with the Javanese expression.

“Never draw near a buffalo deep in mud unless you want to be filthy. When you spot a buffalo bathing in the mud, you’ll likely get yourself muddy as it moves its tail. That is how it goes when you are hanging around with indecent people. You may be tempted to join them and get addicted to what you’re committing.”

Be warned

The catchphrase ojo cedak kebo gupak should be a warning when we make friends without the tendency of discrimination in social life. We must be selective in taking whom to get along with. Enjoying the company of drinking people will probably drive us to taste one sip or more. As we encounter them more and more often, the influence becomes even stronger that drinking gets instilled into a habit. The situation will turn worse as those people add gambling into the habitual action. It is no wonder there’s a song titled Mabuk dan Judi (Drunk and Gambling).

The great Prophet once said, “A good friend and a bad one resemble a perfume seller and a blacksmith assistant. A perfume vendor may spray some perfume or you purchase from him or you simply smell the aroma. Whereas the blacksmith assistant will probably cause your cloth to be burnt or you’ll simply deduct unpleasant odor from him.” (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)

Parents should be aware of whom their kids normally spend time with. Teenagers are now enveloped by every possible temptation they can have. Their growing age creates a proclivity for finding who they really are. “You’re such a dweeb!” is a typical expression addressed to those unable to gel with. When one refused to join his friends burning up the road, he will be doomed to laugh and mockery. They don’t seem to care what they do obviously endangers the life of others and of their own.

A group of students engaged in a gang fight will likely force others into the same commotion. Those saying no will be dubbed disloyal, disbanded, and averse to standing for their friends. Instigation and mock flavored with a portion of intimidation may cause other teenagers to join the fight. On the basis of peer solidarity those who were cowardice and normally indisposed to any brawl finally decide to get involved. It is a nearsighted solidarity by the way, that tends to go negatively destructive.

Ojo cedak kebo gupak is a counsel proposed by elderly that remains valid until no time. If our kids get along with folks who are regular prayers, industrious students, and those with manners, they’ll probably turn out to be good.

(Original text by Abdul Cholik, translated by misterblangkon)