Saturday, 13 December 2008

What is pancakaki?

Sundanese people have a fondness for kinship relation among each other. It is quite normal if a speaker of Sundanese language ask one these questions: 'How old are you? Are you married? How many children do you have? Who are your parents? Where do you live?' Etc. By means of such questions the speaker is attempting to know how close (or how far)  her/his fellow with her/himself.  

This is perhaps not just an act to introduce oneself, or an act to know one's fellow, in the first encounter. This is an act to know each other personally while considering a degree of relationship to be developed. And this would be a nice introduction of a conversation.

This paticular way of conducting a conversation is called pancakaki [pan-cha-ka-kee]. According to Hardjadibrata's dictionary, the word pancakaki may be defined as 'degree of relationship, kinship relations where one stands in respect to others.' 

From sociolinguistics point of view, the pancakaki may appeared as an integral part of a conventional way to realize social position of the selves that are involved in a conversation. As a consequence of the different social positions, the participants of a conversation has to realize a proper speech level to be conducted. In other words, the pancakaki seems to be prerequisite for realizing a proper speech level.  

Today, in harmony with social changes, among Sundanese people there are ones that have suggested their fellows to take the matter of speech level easy. We do not need to differentiate people on the basis of their social position. Humanity is one. Moreover, this is the time of a democratic life, and we are supposed to be egalitarian.