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Kamus Dewan

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

For the life of me, I’m not sure what made me start flipping the dictionary just now. Still, quite a number of my tweets from last night were dedicated to my finds in the dictionary.

Said dictionary is the Malay dictionary; Kamus Dewan, third edition. The current edition, if I’m not mistaken, is the fourth. So some words might have changed meaning or got deleted; I don’t know.

Still, among others that I found fascinating was the fact that there’s an entry on “ngaum” (Malaysian tigers make those kind of sounds) and “ngiau” (the sound that Malaysian cats make. English-speaking country cats go “meow” while Japanese cats go “nya”; fascinating, isn’t it? Even animals can sound different in different countries). Too lazy to check other animal sounds after that. There’s a part of me that feels that I can’t remember what sounds animals make anymore.

Continued flipping… and going on wikipedia and surfed the net. For the life of me I can’t remember what made me google “Konserto Terakhir“, the Malay literature novel I had to read when I was in Secondary 5 (I didn’t even finish the first chapter of Bukit Kepong which I was supposed to read in Secondary 4. Haha). It is a book in which the characters almost unknowingly committed incest if not for the fact they were “good children” that followed their parents stupidly and married their parents’ choice. Oh, typical guy forced into marriage by family but still wanted to shag the girl even though he knew full well he’s going to leave her the next day and did not check on whether the girl got pregnant or not. Typical Malay guy’s thinking, you know, that the child/pregnancy/contraceptives will always be the girl’s responsibility (and the girl thinking it should be the guy, so in the end neither uses any, hence why Malays almost always have bigger families than the other race).

Anyway, that is besides the point. The point of my mentioning the book is that… the main character ends up being a musician, and one of the instruments he plays is called a “biola“. Curious as to which of the violin family instrument it refers to, I opened my “trusty” Kamus Dewan.

The entry says: alat muzik yang dimainkan dengan penggesek, rupanya seperti violin, tetapi lebih besar sedikit dan mengeluarkan bunyi yang lebih rendah (musical instrument played with a bow, looks like a violin but a little bit bigger and makes a lower sound).

Flip to V… and I couldn’t find an entry on “violin”. Alright then. So it should be the English viola then.

But wait!! There’s an entry for “viola”, which says: alat muzik bertali empat yang bentuknya seperti biola tetapi lebih besar (four-stringed musical instrument shaped like a “biola” but bigger).

Wait, what?

Does that mean, in Malay, they call cello (or violoncello) “viola“????

So I flipped to C to find if there’s an entry for “cello”. Looked at all the possible spelling, and couldn’t find any. Flip through and wondered maybe there’ll be an entry for contrabass/bass… No entry on the instrument though; just the sound.

The entry on “biola” does imply that there’s such thing as violins in Malay which is different from the rest of the world’s viola, right? That biola=viola.

So, does the Malay language call cello, which does look like a viola somewhat and is bigger (quite a lot bigger), “viola“???

After all, biola is described to be only “a little bigger” (lebih [more] besar [big] sedikit [a little]) whereas viola is described to just bigger (lebih besar).

Bizarre, init?

Or, it’s just another example of Malaysia boleh! attitude, didn’t double check every entry, eh?

I thought that only happened with Acts of Parliament. Today, I realize I was wrong. Our MPs are not the only busy bunch of people here.

Thus, from analyzing those entries, I can only come to the conclusion that…

Violin is also called violin in Malay.

Biola is viola, as in like the rest of the world’s.

And when it is spelled with a “V”, i.e. viola, it is probably, by implication, what the rest of the world called cello, or its full name, violoncello.

Ahh… pelik pelik!!

Oh well, we need to be unique, after all. Why not in what we call our musical instruments, eh?

But, I assume, to be on the safe side, musicians in Malaysia just ignore how Kamus Dewan defines things and just call them musical instruments following what they are called in English, eh? After all–theoretically and the Government strongly hopes–everyone should be able to speak at least a bit of English properly here… so it should be fine, right? To be using English words? Or just, to the new guy/ student, show the instrument, and tell the name to him/her in whatever language that the teacher/ senior is more comfortable in. Easier, eh? And if there’s any miscommunication, just, show the instrument or a picture of the instrument. After all, nowadays, it’s like everyone has a smart phone that you could google from, right?

Oh yeah, this is such a worthless entry. Hahahahaha.

Good to rant though!! More like, thinking it through somewhat. XD

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