Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The student pees while running

Students in Bogor: Can it be true?

One of the fun things about learning a new language is learning its proverbs: they’re colorful, they offer insights into the culture, and people are usually amused or impressed when you drop them into a conversation. Wikipedia has a great collection of Indonesian sayings. Here are a few of my favorites:

Ada udang di balik batu.
"There is a shrimp behind the stone" - meaning there's a hidden motive at work.

Kalah jadi abu, menang jadi arang.
" The loser becomes ashes, the winner becomes cinder." - describes a conflict that doesn't benefit either side.

Bagai kuku dengan isi.
"Like the fingernail and the flesh beneath." - describes two things that depend on each other for survival.

Guru kencing berdiri, murid kencing berlari.
"The teacher pees standing, the student pees running." - This one fascinates me, because I've never heard a proverb about peeing before. Plus, I don't get it. Apparently the idea is that if a teacher does something bad, the student will do something even worse. But why shouldn't the teacher pee standing? Is the teacher assumed to be a woman? And why would anybody pee while running? It's quite a mystery, this proverb.

Further investigation is required. Stay tuned.

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