Friday, April 2, 2010

“Mangkuk” is a bowl, but also an artful Malay word

“Korang ni semua mangkuk mangkuk lah” Said a surgeon while addressing a bunch of medical students. Literally it would translate to something like “you all are bowls”. He wasn’t taking about types of ceramics or plastic polymorphs from which bowls are made. It was more of a metaphorical expression.

What did he mean?

“Do you know what a mangkuk is?” asked the big guy. One scared little girl at the back mumbled “it’s less severe than bodoh”.

“Bodoh” is another widely used Malay term to describe some ones incapacity to handle a situation well, or rather when someone fails to please another person, and then he is a “bodoh”. Yeah! again, much different from its literal meaning in English, ie “idiot”.

That wasn’t his definition!

“That is not my definition; to me mangkuk is you all” he said with a grin on his face.Did he mean mangkuk is best defined by medical students?

“You all are from International Islamic University, you all are not idiots. You are intelligent, how many “A”s are we talking about? 10A, 12As, some can’t even count the number of “A”s they have” He explained further.

“You know it. We expect you to know it, you have been taught it all, but u can’t use it, you can’t apply it; that makes you all mangkuk- mangkuk besar!” – Of cause mangkuk besar would then mean we are bigger bowls than other small bowls.

Oo! Wait, I think I’ve got it! Mangkuk is just a person who holds loads of knowledge. But cant make use of the knowledge. Like manguk sayur, it just stores the sayur. Doesn’t eat it. Ha!!

Different people with different definitions!

Don’t just over generalize it. For another person, mangkuk might be a different entity. So, it’s little difficult to say what they actually mean by it unless you get a first hand explanation from the person himself. Nevertheless, we hear it pretty often.

At the beginning when you hear it, you may think it’s all the same, but believe me, it’s actually different. For orthopaedic surgeons "mangkuk" is a medical student, while “mangkuk besar” is a House Office (HO) and at this rate, Medical Officer (MO) would become “mangkuk besar sangat”.- a very big bowl indeed!

Since “mangkuk” is such a widely twisted terminology, I believe here it somehow signifies the closeness of the MS, HO and MO to the specialist. Or rather it might just be an expression of the degree of the knowledge the three group of people have- or rather supposed to have. That may explain the ascending scale of besar-ness of the mangkuk.

Take home message; Even though mankuk sayur and mangkuk ayam is understood well in general population, other professions has its own definition of mangkuk. Therefore, practice caution while using and digesting it.