January 24, 2013
Word of the Day: Suberdosa

Nope, this is not a nouveau cusine version of the Tamil dosa flatbread.

It’s Bahasa Maluku for “sinner”.

I heard it a lot in the week and a half I spent on Seram Island. It applies for a lazy man, or for a man who has just given a woman a once over with his eyes.

Berdosa is the Indonesian action verb “to sin”. Su is malukan slang for already.

Perhaps this is common in all of Eastern Indonesia but Malukan street talk usually means words without suffixes. Their counterparts from the western end of the archipelago drop the s in sudah (already/over) when chatting with friends. Malukans say su.

April 15, 2012
Onwards to Makassar

First Southern word of the day

Kuah cumi — simple Bahasa Makassar for blanched squid in a spiced, black, squid ink broth. The local South Sulawesi delicacy is surprisingly tasty. 

March 14, 2012

Word of the day: Pit Dhuwur. It’s Javanese for tall bike. The crew of tall bike riders and builders downtown said the word originated during the Dutch occupation with visiting European circus crews.

February 25, 2012

Word of the day: ‘iga’ or rib. ‘Iga bakar’ means roasted ribs. We munched on some tonight on a street in north Jogja, and washed them down with ice-cold sweet tea.

If cuisine was studied in an unbiased academic fashion akin to linguistics, I think we would find a lost connection between the fried and roasted food from Java and the American South.

And while we’re on the topic of eating, here’s a new idiom – makan hati. This literally means to “to eat heart” but translates as “to grieve.”

February 7, 2012

sunburn: matahari membakar: literally sun-roasted.

We just suffered a recent bout of this while waiting for seven mountains of vegetables and rice to parade through Yogya. No jokes.

February 1, 2012
Indonesian Vocab: Living Behind

Tinggalkan: our new word of the day. 

Our Indonesian teacher Sheila explained that it means “left behind”.

A more literal translation might be tinggal + kan: that which is still living there. 

So, in Indonesian, the life we left behind in the US is still living itself, running its course, and (hopefully) paying our taxes.