Monday, 9 November 2009



Hawe Setiawan

Friday, 6 November 2009

Who is ‘Akang’?

The word akang [a ka NG] is a term of address for an elder brother or anyone on the same line (see Hardjadibrata’s Sundanese-English Dictionary, p. 11). The same word, which has the same meaning, is also found in John M. Echols and Hassan Shadily’s Kamus Indonesia-Inggris/An Indonesian-English Dictionary. The later dictionary recognizes it as a Sundanese and Jakarta dialect (see Echols and Shadily’s dictionary, 3rd ed., p. 9).

There is also a shorter form of this word: kang. It usually precedes a man's name, e.g. Kang Godi.

Those who use this term of address may be a woman to her husband or someone to his/her elder brother. A man usually uses the word akang to refer to himself when he speaks to younger ones or to his wife.

Here is an example quoted from a dialogue in a novel by Abdullah Mustappa entitled Cihaliwung Nunjang Ngidul (1997):

Dina hiji poé geus liwat lohor, sabot Haji Dahlan keur aya di pabrik, Ajengan Cikaso semu rurusuhan nyampeurkeun. Ku Haji Dahlan buru-buru ditepungan.

“Aya naon, Kang? Aya wartos téa?”

“Ih, sanés. Akang téh katatamuan, cenah tentara nu baralik hijrah ti Yogya, rék ngadon reureuh. Meureun aya kana dua tilu poéna, da mani geus lalimpeu pisan. Akang rék ménta bantuan ka Jang Haji. Da ku Akang téh dibagi-bagi wé di sababaraha imah anu katimbang bisa kaéndongan. Jang Haji di antarana.”

One day, in the afternoon, when Haji Dahlan was at the factory, the Cleric of Cikaso appeared in a hurry. Haji Dahlan welcomed him at once.

“What’s happened, Kang? Have you got the news?”

“No, it’s something else. Akang have some visitors, saying that they are soldiers returning from Yogya, and need some rests. It may take two or three days, for they looked so exhausted. Akang need your help, Brother Haji. Akang shall divide them into several houses, which are proper enough to be lodged. Your house is one of them.”

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Story of Darpan

I first met Darpan in Bandung when he was a correspondent of a Jakarta-based newspaper by the end of 1990s. Since then we've met many times, mostly in young writers gatherings.

It is common for village residents to have such a short name. Hence, when he used the name Darpan Ariawinangun in his early works it seemed that he was trying to be a new person. However, an old critic made a joke: "That name is strange," he said. In his opinion, Darpan is a peasant name, whereas Ariawinangun is a noble man name. How could two different worlds become one? (That was a strange opinion, I think). Perhaps, that was why Darpan changed his name with the original one.

Darpan was born in Sungaiula, a coastal kampong of Jayamulya Village in the District of Cibuaya, near Karawang, on 4 May 1970. His village is quite different from the mountainous land of Priangan. It is very close to the sound of wave in northern coast of the Land of Sunda. His father, Ano Wangsa, and his mother, Carnisem, are farmers. Some residents of Sungaiula work in paddy fields, while others work as fishermen. Those who sell goods are not many.

Darpan’s village is a kind of mosaic. Different cultures live together in harmony. To meet Sundanese people one can go to Sungaiula and Cimereta. To meet Javanese people one can go to Pulo Satu, Camara and Cibuntu. In Camara and Sungaibuntu there are ‘Chinese’ people too who speak in Javanese, whereas in Patikus and Anjatan both Sundanese and Javanese people can speak in Sundanese and also in Javanese. If one go to Sidariwan one can meet people whose ancestors are from Batawi. That's what I have noticed based on our conversation in Jakarta in 1998. Darpan himself has colourful family background: his grand parents on his father’s side are Javanese. His grandfather on his mother’s side is Sundanese, and his grand mother on his mother’s side is Javanese.

He had his elementary school at Wargamekar Elementary School in the late 1970s. In 1983 - 1986 he studied at PGRI Junior High School in Pedes, then he studied at SPG (Teacher Training School) in Karawang in 1986-1989. He left for Bandung to join IKIP (Institute of Teaching and Paedagogy---now Bandung University of Education). He studied at the university in 1989-1993. It was in his college years that he started writing stories and poems. He had also won writing competition twice at his college. He wrote poems and short stories both in Sundanese and Indonesian.

Darpan publishes his short stories in some Sundanese periodicals, e.g. Manglé, Galura and Cupumanik. His first book, a children storybook entitled Goong Siluman (the Ghostly Cymbal), was published in 1993. In 1998 he published his first anthology of short stories entitled Nu Harayang Dihargaan (Those who Want to be Respected). For several times (in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000) Darpan have won Literary Prize from the LBSS (Centre for Sundanese Language and Literature). He has also won the D.K. Ardiwinata Literary Award four times (1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996). In 1999 he was awarded the prestigious Rancagé Literary Award for the anthology of short stories. Among his generation Darpan is the first one who win the award.

In the year 2000, along with some other Sundanese writers, Darpan was invited by the Jakarta Art Council to read one of his short stories at Taman Ismail Marzuki. He was also invited by a local branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI) to read his short story in Lampung in the year 2001. In that time Darpan was still working with the Centre for Press and Development Studies (LSPP), a Jakarta-based non-government organization. Darpan also joined Dangiang Community, a Bandung-based group of young writers who are interested in studying Sundanese culture and literature.

In the present day Darpan lives in Garut, West Java, with his wife and two children. He is a schoolteacher, teaching Sundanese to students at a Senior High School. With his colleague Budi Suhardiman, he published a small encyclopedia entitled Seputar Garut (Around Garut) in the year 2007. He also writes columns regularly in Garut Post, a local newspaper.

Hawe Setiawan

Monday, 2 November 2009

Govt Warns Miners over Pawon Cave

Sundanese Corner

West Bandung government warns miners not to ruin Pawon Cave. A government official in Ngamprah said there would be a restriction on mining to prevent karst resources from devastation. Any mining activity in 1 square kilometre (0.4 square miles) around the cave will be prohibited.

Efforts seem to have been undertaken to preserve this historical site. While legislators are said to had been thinking of law enforcement to be taken for the sustainability of natural resources, local government is planning to make the karst site a tourism destination.

Over past few years the urgency for preserving karst resources has been expressed by conservation groups, mainly Bandung Basin Research Group (KRCB), an independent community that has been undertaking surveys on natural resources.

Archaeological and geological researches have discovered some valuable artefacts from the cave. The most important finding is a skull and skeleton of the so-called Pawon Man. According to experts, this archaeological finding could shed lights on early life in Bandung basin some million years ago.***

(Reproduced with kind permission of Pikiran Rakyat, a Bandung-based Indonesian daily newspaper)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sundanese Literature

Sundanese Corner

LET us talk about sastra, which Sundanese people denominate literature. The term, which was derived from Sanskrit, is also known in Indonesian language.

A recent philological study has discovered that the word sastra is found in old manuscripts, e.g. the Sanghyang Sasana Maha Guru, a palm-leaf manuscript that was written in Old Sundanese in 16th century. The word sastra literally means ‘writing’. According to this manuscript, writing skill is one of the ten qualities that define educated people.

Oral Tradition

Sundanese literature seems to have been rooted in a particular oral tradition. One of several valuable legacies of ancient times is the carita pantun. It is a long and poetical story told by a juru pantun or tukang pantun (story teller), which was usually accompanied by the music of kacapi and tarawangsa, traditional string instruments.

In its form the carita pantun is usually divided into three main parts: the rajah pamuka (introduction), the story, and the rajah pamunah (epilogue). The story tells about Sundanese knights in fulfilling their obligations and duties. One of the well-known stories is the story of Raden Munding Laya di Kusuma studied by Dutch researcher C.M. Pleyte in the beginning of 20th century. It is told that Prince Munding Laya is the son of King Siliwangi of Padjadjaran.

People used to gather in a special occasion —e.g. when celebrating a newborn or welcoming a harvest season—to appreciate the performance of carita pantun. The performance was usually presented all night long.

This amazing story telling has passed away over past few decades. Thanks to some Sundanese cultural figures and scholars who recorded the performance of some old juru pantuns and transcribed their stories in 1970s, some ancient stories are well documented in written form.***(to be continued)

Hawe Setiawan

(I owe the information about the text of ‘Sanghyang Sasana Maha Guru' to Aditia Gunawan, a researcher at the National Library of Indonesia.)

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Wild Animals Come to Villages

Sundanese Corner

Dry season in some eastern regions of West Java causes deers and wild boars suffering. As the heat burns hills around the border between Kuningan and eastern Cirebon, and wells in the hills are going dry, these hungry animals seek out food and water in villages of Kubangdeleg, Sedong, and Waled.

"These wild animals have often come not only at night, but also at day time. They have even come to kampongs of Kubangdeleg that quite far from the hillside," said H. Richyadi, Village Head of Kubangdeleg.

It is a struggle for survival as deers and wild boars have annexed farms in the regions over the past few days.

Village residents of Kubangdeleg fought off three wild deers that come to their kampong a couple of days ago. One of the poor creatures was fallen into a well. A night bus on a road between Waled and Sindanglaut hit a big wild boar.

Hawe Setiawan

(Reproduced with kind permission of Pikiran Rakyat, a Bandung-based Indonesian daily newspaper. PR correspondent Agung Nugroho contributed to this report)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Verbal Intensifier

One of the most interesting subjects in Sundanese is the so-called kecap anteuran. The phrase may be translated into English as ‘verbal intensifier’. This element of speech has no meaning but plays important role in a sentence. An intensifier usually precedes a verb to make it more effective, and also more melodious. In the sentence ‘jung manéhna nangtung’ (he/she stands up), for instance, the word jung has no meaning but intensifies the impression of the verb nangtung (stand up).

Every verb has its own verbal intensifier, e.g., gék diuk (sit down), léos indit (going to), berebet lumpat (run), nyéh imut (smile), pok ngomong (say), bray muka (open), bréh némbongan (appear), etc. Each of them are like soul mates. So please don’t forget to make sure which verbal intensifier you need to attach to a particular verb. If, for instance, you said berebet diuk or gék lumpat, people will think that you make a joke, i.e., a mistake.

However, you need not worry. You could make a simple sentence without verbal intensifier. Instead of saying, ‘Barang bray panto muka, bréh manéhna némbongan’, for instance, you might prefer to say, ‘Barang panto muka, manéhna némbongan’ (as the door was opened, she appeared). [barang = when, as; panto = door; muka = open; manéhna = she, he; némbongan = appear, seen].

In several cases verbal intensifiers seem to transform themselves into verbs, as if they are not depend on particular verbs any more. Words such as ngaléos (going to) and pokna (said he/she) are previously verbal intensifiers (from léos and pok). You could express léos manéhna indit ka kalér or manéhna ngaléos ka kalér (she/he goes to the North). [kalér = north].

Here is an example quoted from a description in Darpan's short story entitled 'Nu Harayang Dihargaan' (Those Who want to be Respected):

Hiji mangsa, Ikah geus norojol deui ti nu poek. Sakumaha biasa, ledak deui diwedak gigireun tukang kendang. Dilipen jeung nyisiran, jung nangtung, rengkenek ngarampayak deui...

In a moment, Ikah appeared from the dark. As usual, she put powder on her face beside of a percussion player. She smeared lipstick on her lips, and combed her hair, stood up, and danced again...

In the passage quoted (and loosely translated) above, the words norojol, ledak, jung, and rengkenek are verbal intensifiers.

Hawe Setiawan

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Living Sundanese

At a new mall in Bandung an advertisement is read in Sundanese: 'Hapena hade pisan, facebook oge tiasa' (what a good cell phone, good also for facebook). In fact, as far as speech level is concerned, this advertisement is composed in a somewhat polite manner, except for the word 'hade' (it is better to use the word 'sae' which is polite). However, as the complexity of speech levels have only prevented new generations and foreigners from speaking Sundanese, this advertisement is all right. Why not?

A couple of years ago, amid the growing awareness to the so called deterioration of Sundanese culture, a big banner was displayed in the front window of a provincial government building in Bandung which was read in Indonesian language: 'Gunakan bahasa Sunda di lingkungan masing-masing!' (Please speak in Sundanese at your own quarters!). That was a sympathetic message from the Dinas Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata Jawa Barat (Culture and Tourism Bureau of West Java). The government, however, forgot the very instruction, for the message was written in Indonesian language, not in Sundanese language.

In Kuningan, a town in the eastern region of West Java, a tahu (soybean cake?) vendor displays a brand name: 'Mamaningeun'. The word 'maning' is Cirebonese dialect. The form 'mamaningeun', however, makes use of the suffix '-eun' which is known in Sundanese. As for its meaning the word 'mamaningeun' reminds us to the Sundanese word 'deudeuieun' (somewhat like addicted to). Hence, this new word is a hybrid which weds Cirebonese and Sundanese elements.

hawe setiawan

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The difference between moal and henteu

Sundanese Corner

The word moal refers to a situation where a speaker is not willing to do something, whereas the word henteu refers to a situation where a speaker is not doing something.

For instance:

Abdi moal ngiring rapat (I shall not attend the meeting);
Abdi henteu ngiring rapat (I am not attending the meeting);
Abdi henteu tiasa ngiring rapat (I can't attend the meeting);

Dupi salira tiasa nyarios basa Sunda (Do you speak Sundanese)?
Abdi tiasa/henteu tiasa nyanggem dina basa Sunda (I (do not) speak Sundanese).

Monday, 28 September 2009

Abah Ali, the Compiler of the Sundanese Calendar, Has Died in Bandung

Sundanese Corner

© Hawe Setiawan

Ali Sastramidjaja (well-known as Abah Ali) died at his home in Bandung on Friday, September 25th. He was 74.

The compiler of the Sundanese Calendar was born in Bandung on 27 October 1935. He was one of the sons of the late Neneng Sastramidjaja (well-known as Jaksa Neneng, 1903-1975), a notable public prosecutor cum businessman in the colonial era. In 1969 Ali learned technical skills at a high school in the Netherlands. He returned to Indonesia in 1970.

Since then he worked as a freelance researcher studying and discovering various aspects of Sundanese culture. He contributed valuable findings on Sundanese traditional music, script and calendar. He used computer technology in exploring the musical tonalities of the kacapi, a Sundanese traditional string instrument. He also transliterated some old Sundanese manuscripts into Latin script. The most notable of his contributions is the so called Sundanese Calendar.

Thanks to his personal initiative, people now know a particular calendar system which bases its rules on Sundanese cosmology. According to Ali, the rules of this calendar were found by him through a long period of research from 1983 until 1991.

"I spent almost my whole life exploring Sunda culture," Ali wrote in 1991, describing his 'Kala Sunda' (Sunda Calendar) in a website.

"As far as I know, the Sunda Calendar is the most accurate and finest ... calendar system, especially the Saka-Sunda Calendar (Sunda solar calendar system). I make a comprehensive study on the Julian Calendar, the Gregorius Calendar, and the Islamic Calendar," he said.

In the year 2002, along with Ajip Rosidi and the late Edi S. Ekadjati, among others, Ali found the Center for Sundanese Studies (PSS) in Bandung. This non-profit institution runs a small public library that provides books, monographs and other materials on Sundanese culture.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Promoting PSS

Sundalana, PSS periodical

Sundanese Corner
© Hawe Setiawan

Centre for Sundanenese Studies (PSS) was founded in Bandung by some Sundanese scholars and cultural figures such as Ajip Rosidi, Dr. Edi S. Ekadjati, and Dr. Mochtar Kusumaatmadja in the year 2002. The foundation of this non-governmental and non-profit institution is a realization of one of the recommendations stemmed from The International Conference on Sundanese Culture (KIBS) in Bandung, run by the Rancage Cultural Foundation and supported by the Toyota Foundation, in the year 2001. PSS has a mission to facilitate studies, researches and discussions on any aspect of Sundanese culture as well as their publications.

Since its foundation PSS has been operating a small public library at its secretariat in Bandung. It also issues the Sundalana, a trilingual (Sundanese, Indonesian and English) journal twice a year, and organizes monthly discussion on Sundanese culture. It has also published a book on Sundanese history by the late Dr. Edi S. Ekadjati, a collection of essays on Sundanese culture and literature by Ajip Rosidi, a collection of Sundanese version of some English short stories by Hawe Setiawan and a study on a Sundanese religious figure by Dr. Julian Millie. A few months ago, along with Monash University and Universitas Islam Negeri Sunan Gunung Djati, PSS were involved in a one-day seminar on the works of the renowned Sundanese literati Haji Hasan Mustapa.

One of its main interests lies on preserving old Sundanese manuscripts. There are some a hundred old Sundanese manuscripts written in palm leaf and saved in several places, e.g. in the National Library in Jakarta and the Bibliotheek KITLV and Leiden University in Leiden. Yet there are only some fourteen manuscripts that have been read so far by scholars. Most manuscripts are left unread. Since they can be dated to the 16th and 17th century, their recent condition might be alarming. Hence, Sundanese people are on the brink of total ignorance of their ancestors’ voices. PSS would like to cooperate with any other institution in preserving the manuscripts.***

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Young Teachers Win Hardjapamekas Awards

Sundanese Corner News
©Hawe Setiawan

BANDUNG---Sri Asdianwati, Ai Koraliati and Darpan win the 2009 Hardjapamekas Awards for teaching. Each of the three young Sundanese schoolteachers of West Java gets a trophy and cash of Rp 5,000,000. Chair of judges praise them as creative young schoolteachers who successfully encourage children and teenagers at school to speak in Sundanese as their mother tongue.

Ms. Asdianwati, 30, teaches Sundanese at an elementary school in Garut, about 50 km east of Bandung, as Mr. Darpan, 39, chooses the same profession at a high school in the town, while Ms. Koraliati, 44, teaches the language at a junior high school in Lembang, near Bandung.

The awards presenting ceremony will be held on March 7th at UPI campus in Bandung.

The Jakarta-based Rancage Cultural Foundation runs Hardjapamekas Awards since last year. The awards are presented to encourage Sundanese teacher amid the deterioration of local languages and literatures in contemporary Indonesia. The family of the late R.S. Hardjapamekas (1913-2005), a notable guru from West Java, supports the annual awards.

Long before presenting Hardjapamekas Awards, Rancage has been presenting the annual Rancage Literary Awards for writing since the end of eighties. The awards are presented to Sundanese, Javanese, Balinese and Lampungese writers. It has also been presenting the Samsoedi Literary Award to Sundanese authors who write Children books.***

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Bamboo Music Bridges East and West

Sundanese Corner News
Written by Hawe Setiawan

BANDUNG----A traditional Sundanese music, different songs from all over the world, a collaboration between local musicians and their foreign counterparts and a successful modification of musical instruments will all play their part in bridging East and West.

Such a hopeful impression might have come out of an angklung concert performed last night at Preanger Hotel, Bandung. The ‘Enchanting Night’ –-that’s the title of this charming musical performance---, which was presented by Bandung-based Angklung Web Institute, has apparently made its audience enchanted by some musical pieces, both traditional and modern, pop and classical, Sundanese and Western.

The three hours concert presented the performances of Insperto Orchestra, Arumba Parahiyangan and Temen Awi Angklung Orchestra, before some two hundred audiences, both young and old ---some even came with kids.

Insperto Orchestra, which successfully combined bamboo instruments with traditional percussions, performed ‘Tea for Two’ (Vincent Youmas & Irving Caesar), ‘Donau Wellen’ (Johanes Ivanovici), ‘Cari Pacar Lagi’ (a contemporary Indonesian pop song) and a medley of some Sundanese folk songs.

The second performance by Arumba Parahyangan presented ‘Pachito El Che’ (Benny More), ‘Blue Moon’ (Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart), ‘Tilil’ (a Sundanese folk song), ‘Hungarian Dance’ (Johannes Brahms) and ‘Masquerada’ (Jorge Ben).

And the last but perhaps the most excellent performance by Temen Awi Angklung Orchestra, conducted by Roswita Amelinda, Irma Noerhaty, Edward C. van Ness and Obby A.R. Wiramihardja, presented ‘Lalayaran’ (a Sundanese folk song), ‘Somewhere My Love’ (Richard Straus), ‘O Solemio’ (Eduardo di Capua), ‘New York, New York’ (John Kander & Fred Ebb), ‘Santorini’ (Yanni), ‘Li Biamo Ne Lieti Calici’ from ‘La Traviatta’ (Giuseppe Verdi) and an excerpt of ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra (Johan Strauss). Their performance was also enriched by two sopranos.

Angklung is one of well-known Sundanese musical instruments made from bamboo. Since time immemorial Sundanese people had been playing angklung music as one of their cultural heritages. The late Daeng Soetigna (1908-1984) created a kind of modern and diatonic angklung. And ‘The Enchanting Night’ was presented in commemorating a 100 years of the ‘Father of Angklung’.***

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Rigg’s Dictionary Reissued -- 147 Years late

Sundanese Corner News
Written by Hawe Setiawan

BANDUNG---A Dictionary of the Sunda Language of Java by Mr. Jonathan Rigg is reissued, 147 years after its first publication. This classical Sundanese-English dictionary reappears amid the celebration of the 2009 International Mother Tongue Day in Bandung, the capital of West Java province.

Mr. Rigg was a member of the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences. The English planter had lived among Sundanese people of West Java for several years. His dictionary, which is the first Sundanese-English dictionary that has ever been compiled in history, was first published in 1862 by Lange & Co. publishing house at Batavia (now Jakarta).

‘We reissue Rigg’s dictionary along with four contemporary Sundanese literary works in celebrating this historical moment,’ said Mr. Rachmat Taufiq Hidayat this afternoon. Mr. Hidayat is the CEO of Bandung-based Kiblat Buku Utama publishing house that publishes the dictionary in collaboration with Padjadjaran University (UNPAD).

UNPAD rector Dr. Ganjar Kurnia launched the books at his main campus in Bandung today. In the celebration, he also invited some old Sundanese literary figures to recite their Sundanese poems before younger audiences.

Apart from its new cover and colophon, the ‘new edition’ of Mr. Rigg’s dictionary is completely similar with the original one. There is no revision. Even the typography and old pronunciation have left unchanged. The only new thing in its content is an introduction that is written by Mr. Hidayat himself which is also known as a book collector.

'We just reserve the history. We would like to remind Sundanese people to this monumental work,' said Mr. Hidayat.***

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Gender-Free Pronoun: Everyone is 'Manehna'

Of course, Sundanese people consist of women and men, girls and boys, but they don't think that their words have to be sexist. Unlike English language which separates 'she' from 'he', 'her' from 'his, 'her' from 'him', Sundanese language doesn't separate human being. Everyone is manehna or anjeunna (she/he) in polite manner. The word mantenna, which has the same meaning, usually refers to God or holy figure.

Friday, 13 February 2009

The Context of 'Kuring' and Its Synonyms

There are several words which bear function as the first singular personal pronoun. The words in question are  kuring [koo-ring], dewek [de-wek], aing [a-ing], abdi [ab-di] and simkuring [sim-koo-ring]. 

Which one to be used? Don't be confused. In fact, these first singular personal pronouns have different contexts. What we have to do is considering the contexts, whether the speech act to be conducted is formal or informal, polite or inpolite. 

Kuring is the most common pronoun, especially in informal or friendly speech. Character in short stories usually refers to herself as kuring, e.g. 'kuring indit ka sakola' (I go to school). The word simkuring and abdi are usually used in formal and polite speech, while aing (and also dewek) tends to be inpolite.

The word abdi (which literally means 'servant') is very polite. One can uses it not only to her fellow, but also to God. For example, one can expresses, 'Nun, Gusti, abdi peryogi artos' (O, my Lord, I need some money).

As for the word aing and dewek, one can uses the words when she talks to her best friend, especially in an informal situation. It is also common for one to use the words when she speaks to herself. And don't forget to use the words when you are angry with someone. (Are we angry with ourselves? I have no idea.)

Please note that in Sundanese part of speech there is no difference between subject and object which refer to the first personal pronoun. In English we differentiate 'I' from 'me', for instance. Yet in Sundanese language,  the word kuring could bear function both as subject and object. For example, the expression 'she gives the book to me' may be translated into Sundanese as manehna mikeun eta buku ka kuring.