idiom examples

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at
Thu Feb 25 17:27:33 UTC 1999

>> I have consulted a number of references but have been unable to locate any
>> examples of subject-oriented idioms in Bahasa Indonesia or Malay.  I have
>> in mind idioms in English such as "the cat is out of the bag", "the fur
>> will fly", and so on.  If anyone could provide me with a few examples of
>(1) Nasi sudah menjadi bubur (lit: rice already become porridge)
>               "it's too late to do anything about it;
>                what's done cannot be undone;
>                it's no good to cry over spilled milk"
>              (if you boil rice too long, it's not possible
>               to unboil it back to "al dente". That was before
>               they invented parboiled...)
>(2) Anjing menggonggong, kafilah lalu  (lit: dog barks, caravan passes)
>               (is of course not an original Malay/Indonesian saying....)

A few more:

"Garam di laut, asam di gunung bertemu di belanga."
Lit.: "Salt of the sea and acid (tamarind?) of the hills meet in the pot."
(Said of husband and wife of different backgrounds.)

"Guru kencing berdiri, murid kencing berlari."
Lit: "Teacher pisses standing, student pisses running."
(Teacher provides a bad example, student does something worse.)

"Ayam mati di lumbung padi."
Lit.: "Chicken dies in the rice barn."
(Something like, "Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink.")


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