Tuesday, 28 December 2004

What's in a nickname?

I have a large extended family, lots of uncles and aunts and millions of cousins- first, second third and even tenth. Imagine having to introduce them all to my husband - a Terengganuan? What made it even more difficult was that I couldn't explain to him how a nick name originated - for example - how do I explain Tok Wa Ork? Mak Tam Ne? or Ouih??? Mak Teh Tah, Pak Teh Ei, or Abang Buck....How do these names come about?

I went back home recently and having spent so much time with my ailing mum, I realised and indeed now understand how some of these names originated.

For example, we have just acquired a niece - just six months old and befitting her cute little face and sweet smile, she was named by her adoring parents - Iman Sofea. I suppose her father's infatuation with the actress Sofea Jane has something to do with it.

Now, Mak is totally alien with Sofea - she is more used to Sopiah, and chose to call her latest grand daughter Che Piah. Who dares say anything to hurt the old dear's feelings? Now, Che Piah has a four year old brother whose speech is not quite developed and Che Piah to him is quite a mouthful - so, he has formulated it to Chepiyah. So, Chepiyah it is then.

Let us look at some of my immediate family members - There's Bang Tam Id - so called as he is dark and full name is Said, quite easy that. Then there's Bang Buck. A bit difficult here as I know that his name is Mohd Noor. How did Buck come about? Although having only seen the relatively recent American movie, Uncle Buck - I can now see the resemblance. Could it be Lebark? as is lebar - wide at the waist?

Both Abang Tam and Abang Buck are offsprings of Mak Teh Tah who was named and registered Selasiah, if I am not mistaken, a beautiful Malay name. But why oh why Tah????

Mak Teh Tah, God bless her soul, had a sister, Cik Ne (now,I can't even spell that one). We called her Mak Tam Ne. But what was her full name?

Mak Teh Tah was married to Ismail - but we called him, Pak Teh Ei while Mak Tam Ne was married to someone also called Ismail, but we called him Pak Tam Mey (there's a nasal sound to this). So, where's the logic?

Both Tah and Ne had a younger sister who we called Chu Ar (pronounced as in the English Are). I supposed there's logic in this as she was bongsu - thus Chu and her full name was Johara - thus Are. Now, Chu Are was married to Chu Khiark. This is easy - cos his name was Mohd Khir, so I thought, until I explained this to my husband. "Khiark???" he splattered, nearly spitting out the contents of his throat. Hmm - whatever! But there are other Mohd Khirs who are called Et, or Kat or the more westernised Ed.

Delving into Chu Are and Chu Khiark's family, we find more problems - there's None (Nonay) and there's Chuq. I have a suspicion that Chuq perhaps originated from Busuk (smelly). No right minded parents will ever, ever praise their cutie pies or call them nice names for fear bad luck will befall on them. I am guilty of this too. "Mana bucuk, bucuk Mama ni????", said with undying love and affection. And then they grow up and bucuk Mama is really bucuk, especially after a football game and a long day at school!

While back in AS, I took the opportunity to visit a grand aunt - was told she is very ill and like Mak, she is past 80. From the waist down, she is quite disabled but everywhere else, my goodness! her faculties are working at full steam. Her language is still as colourful, turning the air around us blue with her jokes. Anyway, that's not what I am getting at, but she is famous for giving those around her beautiful nick names. There's Ted, now a successful banker and business woman. How did she get the name? Well, as a baby, she was so small - kecik tet! (she demonstrated with her fingers). Thus Ted. And the sister? Why Mek?? We are not from the East Coast! Did she say something about hidung kemek?? I couldn't get this for the chorus of protests and laughter from those present.

I must go back for more studies on this as I really need to get to the bottom of Tok Wa Ork and Mak Tam Ne. (No pun intended). Oh, by the way, Ouih is Darus, Kedahspeak.

I personally have just acquired a newly glamourised title. Am Kak Teh to my siblings, Mak Teh to my nieces and nephews. But when it comes to my nieces' and nephews' children, I must be Tok Teh , right? Urgggggh!! Spit that out. Dear little cute grandchildren have difficulties with Tok Teh, just as I have difficulties in accepting it. So, it is Oteh...Not bad, eh? I can live with this.

To end this, I will relate my experience being introduced to my husband's side of the family in Terengganu. I was thus presented to Cher, Der, Cheng, Doh, Moh and lots of Meks. I left still puzzled after being hailed Mek Jaroh.


Ruby M. said...

Amboi Kak Teh, banyak nya panggilan. It's easier in English,Uncle and Aunty je. Kengkadang terpikiak jugak, we can be Mak Ngah on one side and Mak Long (if our husband is the eldest) on the other side. Heheh...

Kak Teh said...

Betul tu maknenek. I am mak teh on my side and auntie cik pulak on my husband's side. macam-macam!

Bustaman said...

I have kids of my cousins calling me Ayoh Nggal (tunggal) because I am the only child.
Welcome to the world of blogging. I am sure you will give Jalan-Jalan some competition.

Kak Teh said...

ye ye!! I was visited by Pok ku!!!

mokciknab said...

Kak Teh, I am glad you've finally succumbed to blogging! Now, drag Liz along.
Having read your various articles and reports since school days (you're experienced, not old), it's such a joy to find your writings now on tap, on line.

Should've called the blog Mek Jaroh, tho.

Kak Teh said...

Mokcik, oh no! Now I do feel old!! There's nothing like "I used to read your articles when I was at school," to make you feel really, really ancient!
Yes - will drag Liz along.

anobody said...

hellew, after i read all the entries, i was wondering if you are kak z as the one in rantauan.com but since you link maknenek, i think you are =).

I learn something reading about your mum and really appreciate the fact you shared with us about this.

rafthah @ masneh.

Kak Teh said...

help!! Can't even hide behind a blog!!

Blabarella said...

Hello, Kak Teh!! Like Pok Ku did on his ketang rambling, I'd like to wish you a warm, warm welcome to the blogging world (as if lah I've been on this so long myself)!! Just 3 posts from you and already they're so captivating!! Please keep them coming. :)

Honeytar said...

Heh hehh... Welcome o the world of blogging! This Choc-a-Blog will be a hit. I know it is a gem when I spot one. :)

Atok said...

Chak! Hehehe.. I think I know who this Kak Teh is, kan, kan kan. :)

Kak Teh said...

Thank you all for dropping by - hmm tak dan nak buat teh pun!!! Yikes - now feeling the pressure to write - kalau orang datang tak ada sajian baru macam mana?? Hidangan lama aje??
Atok, now i know why you lama menghilang!! kampong halaman kita tu sunyi sepi sebab members dok asyik bbloggeng!

anobody said...

hahaha kak z i agree with you. but why not we all link everyone whom has a blog together? a community of bloggers from rantauan itself? i think cause maybe in a blog we can write what we really feel, our views without offending anyone or worry about what one might think about it and read at your own risk?


Doreen said...

Very nice. Very nice indeed. Just 3 entries from you, and you're going to be in my "Must Read List" already! Heh.

famyGirl said...

hello!! blog-hopped here from Pok Ku's blog.
my daughter's name is Sofea too :)

Iskandar Syah Ismail aka DR Bubbles said...

patutlah ramai yang hilang dari rantauan.tgh syok dengan blogging.

mak teh..hehehe,

I just got back from jerantut, pahang. met Tok Haji Khairuddin Kawi a local historian, former politician ( orang kuat tun razak, used to be the speaker for DUN Pahang long time ago). I am going to dig his vast collection of cerita rakyat and history from him soon. Insya Allah I nak share dalam rantauan.

Delicate Flower said...

Too funny - I lost it at Chuq!!

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh.. hmmm.. stumbled into your blog thru Mak Andeh's.. from this entry, I know we're related. Some call u Kak Z but I called u Kak A. And oh such fun trying to figure out the relatives, who is who.. Oh, I live near Mak Teh Tah and Tok Su Pa by the way.. Happy blogging..