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Old 28th October 2017, 11:11 PM   #9
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,541

Thank you for this update Karel.

I have submitted your most recent post to my relative, and here below is a precis of his comments. I have given his comments in English, and only as a precis, the full text of his response is in Indonesian and also covers some upcoming family matters, the English translations are my own:-

If this line:-

ja iki pa nu lak heng/eng (the final representation in this line cannot be read)

is understood as:-

"ini penolak gering" (this is Bahasa Indonesia, not Javanese)

a speaker of Bahasa Indonesia would understand it literally as :-

"this to ward off sickness"

or freely as "this is a protection against illness"

however, if we bring it into Javanese:-

"ja" is pre-1972 "ya", understood in Ngoko as the English "yes", however, when we have "ya iki" this is understood as the English "this is"

"panulak" is Javanese ", it comes from the word "tulak", "tulak" can be understood, depending upon context, as "a magical protection", however the word "panulak" has no magical connotations, it is the act of keeping something away, or of warding off. The Javanese word "tulak" comes into BI as "tolak", meaning "to push away", "tolak" has a number of BI derivatives with a number of contextual meanings.

So, "ja iki panulak --- " could be understood as "this is to ward off ---"

Now, at this point we have problems.
A Javanese native speaker will not understand "heng" or the unaspirated form "eng" as "ing" these are different words with different meanings. Yes, spoken, and to non-native speakers there is a similarity in sound, but we are looking here at writing, and the Hanacaraka representation of "heng" and "ing" are quite different.

"eng" can be understood in two ways, it can be a "fill word" such as is used in hesitant speech, that is, English words such as "er", or "um", or it can be the English word "um" used as an exclamation

"ing" means, depending on context, either "at", "on", "in"

Quite a difference.

But the real problem is with the last letters in this line, which to my informants were totally unintelligible, but to the Facebook informants were understood as "gering". To a speaker of Bahasa Indonesia "gering" can be understood as "sick", this is especially true when the word "gering" is used in reference to animals, or is used in Jakarta dialect.

However, to a native speaker of Javanese as it is spoken in Surakarta and in Jawa Tengah in general, the word "gering" means "to be sickly or unwell, or languishing, or thin because of illness", if the word "gering" is used to mean "sick", that usage can only correctly be applied to an animal.

In other words, an animal can be "gering" or "sick", but if the word is used in reference to a person who is actually sick, as opposed to being sickly, that is extremely crude usage that can be taken as an insult. To refer to a sick person as "gering" is tantamount to referring to that person as an animal, or perhaps as a person who is below consideration as deserving of respect.

So, to translate that first line:-

" ja iki pa nu lak heng/eng (the final textual representation in this line cannot be read)"

into Bahasa Indonesia as:-

"ini penolak gering"

which in English becomes (literal):-

"this to ward off sickness"

is not really something that could be called an adequate translation of the text as presented.

To give this the English translation of:-

‘Be this, [a] safe guard [of the owner, from] illness’

seems to be a giant leap.

To hypothesise further upon the basis of the supposed translation is not something I am prepared to pass comment on.

I should probably give a little bit of information about the people who supplied me with information.

My relative is a man in his early 50's, university educated, a middle manager in a large company. He is a member of a noble Surakarta family, and has the right to use a noble title. His native language is Javanese and he is extremely proficient in the three general levels of Ngoko, Madya & Krama.

Because he was not able to extract a clear meaning from the text, he referred this text to a family friend who is a retired lecturer in Javanese literature. This man apparently also had problems in getting a defensible meaning from the text, so he discussed it with two of his academic friends. Nobody was able to produce a clear, defensible transcription into Roman text, and everybody was reluctant to guess.

Karel, perhaps your Facebook informants are correct, and my informants are incorrect. We can only form our own opinions.
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