Old Sister Bird

The Malaysian language, Bahasa Malaysia, has contributed a small but interesting number of words to English. I’d like to start an occasional series on them, starting with the Cockatoo. Now, many of you may first think of an irritating pop band, but that’d be the Cocteau Twins. The Cockatoo is a parrot-like bird found here in the archipelago. It’s name here is Burung Kakak Tua, which means Old Sister Bird, and it is the subject of one of my favorite Malay nursery rhymes.

Burung Kakak Tua
Hinggap di Jendela
Nenek sudah tua
Giginya tinggal dua
Le-chum, Le-chum, Le-chum hoo la laa
Le-chum, Le-chum, Le-chum hoo la laa
Le-chum, Le-chum, Le-chum hoo la laaaaa
Burung Kakak Tu-aaaa!

Which I translate as

Old Sister Bird
Perched on the window sill
Grandma is now quite old
Of her teeth, only two remain
Le-chum, Le-chum, Le-chum hoo la laa
Le-chum, Le-chum, Le-chum hoo la laa
Le-chum, Le-chum, Le-chum hoo la laaaaa
Old Sis-ter Birrrrd!

Of course, I’d love to sing it for you, but I’m restricted by the medium. And, uh, by the fact that I can’t carry a tune. But there you have it, the Cockatoo.


8 thoughts on “Old Sister Bird

  1. i cant stop smiling when i read this. Thanx. I needed a pick-me-up.

    there was a song (burung kakak tua) back in the 70’s (if i am not mistaken). Its kinda a ‘hip’ childrens song perhaps?

  2. I have another good one… I translated it into Turkish 🙂 (with Malay spelling coz I don’t have a turkish keyboard)

    Sicra kurbagha atla,
    Yuksek yuksek firla,
    Cabuk kardesh cabuk ya,
    Cabuk ya sabah sabah uyan…

    Sicra kurbagha atla,
    Kuyu’nun yaninda firla,
    Cabuk kardesh cabuk ya,
    Cabuk ya dishlerini fircala…

    Egher kardesh… sen aylaksin,
    Sabah uyanmak gevsheksin….
    La la la la la la la 2x
    Sonra kaybedeceksin!

    The original Malay version:

    Lompat si katak lompat,
    Lompatlah tinggi-tinggi,
    Cepatlah adik cepat,
    Cepatlah bangun pagi-pagi…

    Lompat si katak lompat,
    Lompat tepi perigi,
    Cepatlah adik cepat,
    Cepatlah pergi gosok gigi…

    Kalau adik… malas bangun,
    Malas bangun pagi…
    La la la la la la la 2x
    Nanti adik rugi…

  3. Jump frog jump,
    Jump high-high,
    Quick brother quick,
    Quick wake up morning-morning…

    Jump frog jump,
    Jump beside the well,
    Quick brother quick,
    Go brush your teeth…

    If you are lazy…
    Lazy to wake up early,
    Lalalalalalala 2x
    Soon you will lose…

    😛 Nyeh nyeh nyeh

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