Polite Here, Impolite There

One day, an idea came up from my mind. I think it will be very fun when we have a kind of holiday package in which we are urged to explore various local languages in Indonesia. Since Indonesia is rich with hundreds of local vernaculars, it can be interesting when we can collect some vocabularies. One word will have some different words with the same meaning. For example, kamu (you) can become kowe (in Javanese), loe (in Betawi), maneh (in Sundanese), and many others. See? There are different words with the same meaning we can collect through a single Indonesian word. There is one more interesting thing about local languages.

I spent six months living in Bandung for work. During my work, I was always listening to people speaking Sundanese. As a person born in Malang, East Java, moving to Bandung, West Java, has made me a kind of stranger in my own country. People around me were speaking Sundanese whereas I was blank about Sundanese. At that time, I just missed to speak Javanese. Otherwise, I found that it was interesting to learn about a new local language. After some trials, I found that some words in Javanese are also used in Sundanese but with different levels.

In Javanese, dhahar (eat) is a polite word. On the contrary, Sundanese considers dhahar as an impolite word. It is known that every local vernacular has three levels: high (polite), normal, and low (impolite or rough). The way we speak to an elder will be different with the way we speak to a younger. Shortly, one word can be polite used here whereas it is impolite used there.


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