Bahasa Indonesia: How the subject and object are related to each other

Subject and Object Relationship is like tangled branches...
Subject and Object Relationship is like tangled branches…

One day, when I was teaching the concept of the word “meninggalkan” compared to “tinggal”, the student whom I taught, who learned philosophy in her graduate study, told me something that even for me as an Indonesian is unthinkable.

She said that some verbs in Indonesian language treat subjects and objects as two entities that are interrelated, immersed. The word “meninggalkan” is an example. For your information, the words “tinggal” and “meninggalkan” mean “to stay” and “to leave”, respectively. She further explained that the word “to stay” in English is absolutely unrelated to the word “to leave”, that English doesn’t show the relationship whatsoever, thus doesn’t demonstrate the relationship between the subjects with the objects.

This, however, is not the case with some Indonesian verbs. The word “tinggal”, which is an intransitive verb, tells you that the subject stays. So the sentence “saya tinggal di rumah teman” is translated into “I stay in my friend’s house.” On the other hand, the word “meninggalkan”, which is a transitive verb, gives you the information that the subject makes the object stay by leaving it, hence the sentence “I leave you here” is translated into “saya meninggalkan kamu di sini.”

As a matter of fact, some other verbs which are categorized as transitive verbs even shows a strong relationship between a subject and its indirect object by only adding a suffix. Even if we don’t mention the indirect object, it is implied that the action is for the benefit of others (grammatically known as indirect objects). Let’s have a look at these examples:

“Saya sedang membaca buku”

“Saya sedang membacakan buku”

In English, both are translated into “I am reading a book.” However, in the second sentence, it is implied that the action “reading” is for the benefit of someone. It might be easier if we see translation of the second sentence as “I am reading a book (for someone).” We call the verbs with the suffix “-kan” as Benefactive Verbs. Let’s see other interesting examples:

“Tolong buka pintu!” is “Please open the door!” in English, but “tolong bukakan pintu!” becomes “Please open the door (for me)!” The first sentence is neutral. It might be said when the speaker wants the audience to open it but because of the distant relationship between the speaker and the audience, the speaker makes the request less personal. On the other hand, the second sentence tells us that the speaker is in need of having the door opened by the audience, so the request becomes more personal. The speaker wants the audience to open it for the sake of the speaker.

Indonesian language is a unique language on its own. In this post I have discussed how the subject and object are related. Here, I also discussed how the speaker can involve the audience by making s/he an implied part of the sentence.

In a blink of an eye

Inspiration can come through years of journey and traveling, but it sometimes comes in a blink of an eye. Tonight, after taking someone to a train station, I just experienced the latter.

When I was walking out of the station, someone, while laughing, hit me on the arm. I was actually going to stare at him responding to his direct hitting which I consider as impolite. It changed, however, when I suddenly recognized the face of the person. He’s a coworker. Well… he’s not actually a coworker in that he works as the security officer in my place. Nonetheless, I consider him as one because we work at the same place.

When I realized that he was actually my coworker, I smiled and we chatted. I just knew that besides working as a security officer in our office, he also works as a motor taxi driver (in Indonesia we call motorcycle taxi as OJEK). In an instant, I became aware of something I don’t usually think much. I remembered all motorcycle taxi drivers who offered me to ride the motorcycle whom I refused without concern, sometimes without showing any kinds of gratitude for the offers. I imagined that the taxi drivers could be my coworker, or even on of my relatives. Offering this kind of service can sometimes be upsetting when the offer is not responded nicely. He might also receive this kind of treatment from other people.

Showing compassion is what makes us human. What would you feel if you receive rude treatment from other people? We know that if we want to be treated nicely, we have to be nice, but how many people really act upon this?

Dancing and Life

A picture of an art performance done by my deaf friends in Solo.

I still remember when me and my friends finally danced in front of unknown audience who most of them are hip hop dancers. Actually, if we danced hip hop it wouldn’t feel unusual. But we danced to a korean pop song, and that what made it unusual.

At first we thought that it would only be a dance competition with not so many participants. My friend who asked me to particiate said that they didn’t have enough participants. So we took the challenge the night before we did the performance.

After discussing the formation (the dance was to have been performed by 8 people but we only had 3 people available; so we needed to do some adjustments), we practiced the dance on the day of our performance. When we realized that it wasn’t only a dance competition, but also some others, and we had to do it in a basketball field, one of us almost gave up. But I assured her to stay.

After a 1.5-hour practice, we met the other participants. We were surprised to see their preparedness. We’re not that prepared. One of us started to doubt herself and asked me “are you sure?” several times. But I could convince her to just dance.

And after watching some performances, we’re not that nervous anymore. Some of them weren’t as good as what we’d thought. When we are called to do the performance, it was like a point of no return. I felt like our life would change after this performance. And it did.

In front of an audience with unknown preference towards korean pop, we audaciously danced. We didn’t really care about the response, even though they clapped at the end of our performance.

Dancing in front of those people was inevitable. So is life. Life is like…’take the challenge!’, and when it comes to the point of no return, you just have to do it. And when you finally do it, challenges become not as hard as what we think before. In fact most of them become easier to handle.

This was a life-turning experience for us. And we know that our lives will not be the same again.

What linguists do…

For the past several months, I’ve been corresponding with a linguist professor from Australia. At first it was started with questions concerning scholarship. But then it continued to something else. Linguistics and being a linguist.

Professor Nicholas Evans has given me the insight of what is the meaning of being a linguist. He sent a self-written book “Dying Words” which has shown me not only the door to what linguistics is, but it has also provided me the best seat to see linguistics from a different perspective.

One day I asked him about what contribution he has made by being a linguist. And his answer is forever engraved in my heart.

There is wisdom in every language…every culture… which is not available in other cultures, thus other languages. This is due to the uniqueness of each individual culture and language. The job of a linguist is to uncover the wisdom.



It’s never easy to have to say good bye to someone or some place. Being in a place or with someone creates a bond. This bond can be loose or tight depending on how we live our life.

However, parting is undoubtly an important part of life. The pain we have endure when parting is an important part of the process of life. It makes us learn a lot about what life is.

People come and go in different pace. Sometimes I don’t really pay much attention to how long they’re with us and how fast they leave us. For me, it has nothing to do with how we live. It’s merely inevitable that parting happens. That’s it.

To part is to survive the life. To say thank you to any gifts that life gives. To apologize the pain resulted in the process.


This Week’s Keyword: Collaboration

Have you heard something called “the law of attraction”? I believe you have… And this week it has been proven…

Two days ago (December 26, Thursday), my friend and I met Pak Imam Subhan, one of the founders of Akademi Berbagi (Sharing Academy), where everyone can learn everything from anyone else, for free… Well, actually our visit was part of our (EsForEs) program… Errr… I think I should explain what EsForEs is…

Esfores (S4S = Soul For Society) is actually a small community where we try to help people to live according to their passion and potential. By helping ourselves, we help others. How do we help ourselves? By having “teachers”… who teach us about life… I’m sure they don’t want us to call the teachers (gurus), but, they ARE teachers for us, indeed 🙂

Pak Imam is one of them. Our chat with pak Imam, apparently, has enlightened us… For the past few months, we have been facing problems, internal problems, concerning our programs. Even though pak Imam didn’t really address our problem, and we didn’t really tell him about what has been happening in EsForEs, I know deep down inside that what Pak Imam said has truly touched the very essence of our (EsForEs) establishment.

EsForEs was a community that helps others by helping itself… first. And this is exactly what Wahyu (the inisiator of EsForEs) did… He established a community, a small one, for us to learn something from each other, to share, to help ourselves. And from this community, we also share ideas how to help other other people. The problem is… we’re too small, and it seems that we’re not doing anything lately, because we’re busy with “helping others” programs, and we ignored the need to help ourselves first.

Pak Imam said that, in order to develop ourselves, we have to collaborate. This is what happens with Akademi Berbagi. They collaborate! They coordinate, people with people, people with organizations. Who wants to learn something, and who wants to share ideas… Collaborating, expanding, can also help us to share ideas with other members who have the same concern. What pak Imam said, in that instant, inspired me to do more for our small community.

One day later (December 27), I went to a cafe to drink juice with my Parkour friends (for those of you who don’t know what Parkour is, read: ). Actually, we didn’t intend to go there, but because one of them was going to participate in a carbon-reduction campaign, we accompanied him. And suddenly, we got involved. This campaign, arranged by 350, a community with a focus on carbon reduction, is actually a collaboration of different communities in Jogja (including JUMPalitan; a parkour community in Jogja).

And tonight, I just attended a performance from Deaf Art Community (some of them in the community are my friends when I learned sign language few years ago) to celebrate the 8th anniversary of the community. When I was there, I was quite surprised… I mean, I haven’t seen their performance, not even once, but…it was more than just a regular performance. It was a collaboration of the community and other communities. There were Jogja Beatboxing community, BBoy Community, and Freestyle Basket Community. It was more than just awesome! It was a place where everyone learned something from each other, between the deaf and the hearing, among different communities.

Those things made me think… Collaboration is truly a very powerful thing. It’s like, we’re just one big family with a lot of difference! And this week… my target is, to expand, to collaborate, for me, for EsForEs.

Commercialized (Noncompulsory) Education

One day, a mother pinched her son forcing him to enter a classroom full of girls. His son refused and cried because he didn’t want to be the only boy in the classroom so he preferred to wait for his male friends outside. After minutes of crying and shouting, finally another boy came and the struggle ended. Teaching in a class where the students are not willingly study on their own account will usually have this kind of drama. If we’re teaching children who are still in lower level of elementary school we usually say “babysitting?” to each other.

I happen to teach in an informal education institution. Here, the students have foreign language courses for one to 1.5 hours. In this setting lie problems. First, the students don’t usually have bonds with the teachers, due to short term exposure to the teachers and the study environment. Second, if they spend too much time here (studying for a lot of levels), they are likely to be bored and exhausted to the extent of sleeping in the classroom because of their school and extracurricular activities. Third, it is quite uncommon for school-age children and teenagers to have the initiative to study this “extra” course, and it is usually their parents who are eager to put their children here. Yes, some children are quite attentive and enthusiastic, but the rest are just spaced-out in a place where the teacher is speaking a language they don’t understand, or they just study half-heartedly. A student (kindergartener) said “mommy is the principal, so it’s up to her if she wants me to study here or not. She put me here, and if she forgets to take me here i just let her forget,” as she answered my question about her late comings.

The teachers are also supposed to give comments about the students’ progress, but because they only have very limited time of interaction, not to mention that they also have so many students, it is intriguing. On the other hand, some parents might feel that the comments are not quite favourable due to the fact that teachers only meet students for an hour every once in a week. Another problem arise when the students don’t act in accordance with what the teachers expect in a class. There’s nothing much the teachers can do except to sometimes tolerate certain disturbing behaviour just to keep the learning pace. Another problem is that, because it is the parents’ eagerness to have the children study here, and is not supported by enough skill and knowledge of the parents about what their children are learning, it is hard also for students to retain what they learn here at home. It would be nice if both parents and teachers are in line towards the goal while at the same time the students also have motivation to do it. And it would also be nice if all of the teachers understand or are equipped with educational psychology (not all teachers majoring in Education understand how to handle such situation), which requires the teachers to be qualified or is made qualified, and this in turn would likely to increase the “production” cost or “improvement” cost of the human resources. Not likely to be favoured economically speaking.