This Book is So “Ngawur”

The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World
Adam Jacot de Boinod
Penguin, 2007  |  209 hlm

tingoI wrote this review in English, because –like the book itself—it is intended to English speaking reader. And my recommendation is: don’t expect this book to be a reliable reference.

This book is a compilation of foreign words about concepts or expressions which cannot be conveyed in English language. But the problem is the author doesn’t seem to understand the context which these words are used.

The obvious examples for me is the use of Indonesian words here. Two of them are:
1) the author bio on the backflap: He is now intending to nglayap (Indonesian—“wander far from home without no particular purpose”), but for the moment lives in London. For this context you have to use “merantau”.
2) “Begadang” is categorized in “Conversation” (p.5), which is totally wrong because “begadang” itself means stay up all night, which is not necessarily involve a conversation. You can begadang for doing your homework or watching soccer on TV, for examples.

So I assumed the author also doesn’t understand the context of the other language words.

I searched the Internet looking for explanation for this recklessness and found similar critiques for this book. The author is not a linguist or an expert on language. He just compiled and collected words from every dictionaries he read for his job in a comedy quiz show on BBC. And some reviewers even pointed out that some of the words listed in this book actually don’t exist.

How come Penguin published a book like this? Don’t they have some competent editors?

This book is meant to be funny, I guess, but there’s nothing funny about a language book that’s so ngawur and ngaco.


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