Thursday, October 4, 2012

Indonesian Name Titles

Since not all Indonesians have last names, Indonesians always go on the first name basis. However, we use name titles according to our relationship type. If you're not from Indonesia (or other Asian nation), you may wonder why you should bother about this trivial thing. But it will come handy if you're bargaining at a traditional market :).

Below are the name titles I usually use. Most terms I put here are taken from Javanese culture, which I grew up in. If you go to other islands in Indonesia, the name titles may be different. Yay for cultural diversity!

1. The patriarch

Bapak can be used to call the biological father/men who are about your father's age/men you respect. Bapak comes handy for formal relationship, such as calling the male bosses. So if you get introduced to a respectable older Indonesian man, you can just call him Bapak.

Other terms to call biological father in Indonesia are Ayah (my previous post on Ayah), Papa or Papi (usually in middle-high class families), Abah (commonly found in Sundanese family), Babe (usually in Jakarta's Betawi ethnic group), Buya (this is actually derived from Arabic term Abi or Abu, which means father). Please note that we don't call our male bosses with Ayah.
2. The matriarch
On the other hand, the formal way to address an older woman/female boss/women you respect is Ibu. The name title is also applicable to call biological mother/married women. Other options are Bunda, Mama or Mami, Ambu, Enyak, EmakUmmi.

3. The parents of parents
Grandparents are mostly called with Kakek (grandpa) and Nenek (grandma). Similar titles are Eyang Kakung-Eyang Putri, Mbah Kakung-Mbah Putri or Opa-Oma (these come from Dutch words), 

4. The parent's siblings
For the parents' older male sibling, the most commonly used term in Java is Pakde. His wife should be addressed with Bude (although she may be younger than your parents). The same applies for the parents' older female sibling, her title is Bude, and her husband is Pakde

The male younger sibling of parents is called Paman and his wife is Bibi. Other variations are Oom and Tante (derived from Dutch terms). I spent my younger years struggling to remember who should be called Pakde and who were Paman. In English, everyone is Uncle and Auntie. Gaah.

5. The male sibling
If the male is your older sibling, you can call him Mas (Javanese), Kakang or Aa (Sundanese), Abang (commonly used in Sumatra) and Uda (West Sumatra/Padang). This appellation can also be used when a woman has romantic relationship with a man. Even my aunties call their husbands with Mas. I guess this name title shows that the women consider the men as their older respected counterpart.


6. The female sibling
For the big sisters, the name titles are Mbak (Javanese), Teteh (Sundanese), Uni (Padang) and Kakak (applicable everywhere, but commonly found in other islands beside Java), which is actually a gender-neutral term for older sibling. I have friends who call their big brothers and sisters with this appellation. Kakak is often heard in the markets. If you have younger siblings, you can call him/her Adik, but this is rare. Just call him by his/her name. 

P.S. I mentioned about the name titles in passing a few years ago

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