The Indonesian word for liver (like the liver that is in your abdomen) is hati. However, as in many other cultures, it is also the seat of the emotions, like we use the word “heart” in English.  In our studies of the Indonesian language we have come across some unusual, and sometimes funny when translated literally, ways that this word is used.

The phrase for “encourage” is membesarkan hati, which literally means “make someone’s liver bigger.” The phrase to describe someone as “generous” is murah hati, which literally means “to have a cheap liver”.”  And one we hear all the time is hati-hati which people say to mean “be careful!” But, literally it is just “liver-liver.”  People say this especially to kids and as a way to say goodbye, sort of like our “take care!” Also, in almost every phrase where we would use the word “heart” like “Jesus comes into our heart”,” the Indonesian language uses the word for “liver,’” hati.    It has been fun to learn these phrases and then to hear them in everyday speech. We just have to remember not to translate literally – I don’t want my liver made bigger, but I really don’t mind being encouraged!

We are both in unit 4 of 6 now in our language studies, which is just about the stage where we can not do everything correctly in Indonesian, but we know just enough now to confuse our English! Now we sometimes feel like we can’t speak either language at all :). Overall things are progressing well and it feels like our time here in Bandung is going really fast. Can’t believe we’re almost half-way!


1 Comment

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One response to “Hati

  1. Kara, that's really interesting. In Chinese, the word for our English version of "sweetheart" is "xing gang", and the literal translation of "xing" (pronounced sh-ing) is heart and "gang" (pronounced gah-ng) is liver!

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