Thursday, March 22, 2007

Our Four-letter Words Are Two-syllable Ones

Does Bahasa (Indonesia) have four-letter words? Yes and no.

Yes, of course we have swearwords. Any language who don't have them is either a programming language or a fictitious one. Although I'd very much like the former to have one. Learning HTML would be a lot easier if it has alternative swear-commands.

[block@$#$*&@#quote this you moron]This is supposed to be a harmless quotation.[/block#*$^#*&#quote]
But back to real swearing: No, our swear words are not exactly four-lettered. In fact, I believe Bahasa doesn't have a swearword that only consists of a single syllable. Take "bodoh" ("dumb"), "tolol" ("stupid"), "goblok" ("moron"). Two syllables. Check any Indonesian swearwords that refer to certain body parts. Two syllables. Indonesian swearwords that refer to sexual activities? Two syllables.

Apparently, our language was designed so we could only drive a point at the second syllable. Any single-syllable word will be harmless. Even if we scream it out loud. Just try screaming "Bod!" or "Tol!" or even "Gob!" People will only think you're calling somebody with a funny name and bad hearing.

But add one syllable. And any words you mutter will sound like a curse. Even if it doesn't make sense. I dare you. Approach a huge, muscular guy, and see him eye to eye. Get a ladder if he's too tall. But look at his eye and say any two-syllable nonsense like "Toldoh" or "Goblol". You'd better have a will ready.

Of course, the pronunciation also matters. The first syllable must be uttered as if your tongue is recoiling, ready to deliver the next one; the punch-syllable. And deliver it you will. Let loose on the second. Even the nicest words like "Hebat" ("Great") or "Pinter" ("Intelligent") would be considered offensive when flung out this way.

Got it? Pinter.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spielberg Does Tintin: The Ultimate Question

After Herge Studios officially announced that Spielberg will produce a movie of Tintin, the ultimate question remains: Will he let Tintin keep his frat-boy hairdo? Or will he throw him into the nearest makeover center?

According to our latest sources--which are reliable and also believe that Tintin is actually Elvis, but I digress--Spielberg also aims to target Tintin at the (American) mainstream market. Discussions are already on the way about how Tintin should look like. And they seem to base their research on today's pop culture bulletin boards: the American Idol.

So, for the first time ever on the WWW, below is the unofficial sketch of their makeover team.

They will also do their own soundtrack under the stagename "Tin2 feat. Snowy the Bonemuncha"

Tintin, however, provided no comment.

"Yo, let's get a suit with the 'tude which suits this era, Snowy!"

Friday, March 09, 2007

Language Barrier: Why Stephen Spielberg George Lucas Didn't Cast Asians for Star Wars

Last month, I attended an annual, international symposium. Its theme wasn't important. Not in this blog, anyway. Because the official theme was actually twenty words long. I quickly concocted my own theme, "To stay awake for eight hours straight, three days in a row."

I almost failed.

Because these guys were professional Power Point Troopers. One speaker had only opened a single slide full of bulleted points, and I could almost hear the sound of a few heads hitting their desks. Those were the new guys. A veteran participant sitting next to me was actually sleeping while sitting straight up, as if he just swallowed a coat hanger. And--I'm not kidding--he turned out to be the next speaker.

Later, during a coffee break, I spoke to a Vietnamese speaker. His presentation had some information that I was interested in, yet I had trouble understanding what he said. "Yes," he nodded on my inquiry. "I'm the vader of the organization."

"Excuse me?" I frowned.

"I'm the vahnter," he insisted with a straight face.

It took about three seconds before it finally sank in. "You're the founder?"

"Yes," he nodded vigorously.

I would love to see Stephen SpielbergGeorge Lucas cast this guy for Star Wars. One of the most memorable scenes would've become legendary.

"Luke," said Darth Vader after trading lightsaber blows. "I'm your founder."

"What?" Skywalker frowned.

Vader snarled, "I'm your bother!"

"Can't agree more," groaned Luke.

One of the crew would've been bound to voice his protest, "StephenGeorge, why don't you ditch this guy?"

"Don't tell me what to do!" growled SpielbergLucas. "You're not my father!"
This kind of imagination was the only thing that helped me stay awake.

Yet Another "Why Not?" Product

Let me get this straight. Baby socks that say, "I Love My Mummy XXX"? I know many people use the symbol for signifying kisses and all. But come on, that particular use sounds more like a campaign by The Oedipal Support Foundation. And the whole sock looks more like a complimentary gift for a family package tour by Kinki Nippon Tourist.

Well, if we're into double meanings, why not go all the way? Let's make, for instance, diapers that say, "YOU'RE my daddy."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The KKK Took My Baby Away

When our newborn baby developed excess bilirubin, we took her to a local hospital. To our horrors, the ER referred us to the KKK.

But apparently, KKK stands for Klinik Kesejahteraan Keluarga (in English: Family Welfare Clinic). So we sighed a relief, knowing that the nurses wouldn't be cladded in all white.

They wouldn't do things like blindfold her.

And they wouldn't indoctrinate us to wear masks.

On second thought... uh oh.