27 October 2011

Appropriate Attire

Some culturally-specific words are almost impossible to translate into English. For example, for the recent graduation ceremony at UBD, we were provided with a short instruction sheet, including some advice on etiquette and attire. On one side it is in Malay and on the other in English. The Malay includes the sentence:
Orang-orang Haji dibolehkan memakai ketayap tetapi hendaklah BERTENGKOLOK
with the last word capitalised (presumably to show it is rather important). The English translation that is offered is:
Only black songkoks should be worn.
which is rather simpler. A more accurate translation might be something like: "People who have been on the haj are allowed to wear white caps but only if they have a rim and a tassle down the back." No wonder the writer didn't attempt to provide a completely accurate translation!

In fact, there is an accompanying picture which is quite helpful: