What kind of job is “tukang …”? Posted by asimonoff on Aug 24, 2015 in Uncategorized
When you learn Indonesian the first time, you notice that there are job titles that begin with “tukang” (pronounced “two-kung”). While at the time you also learn that there are professions and occupations equivalent to English, you also learn that it is not easy to find similar jobs of “tukang…” For example, “tukang parkir” is “parking ranger,” and “tukang sayur” is “vegetable vendor.” How about “tukang makan”? If you search on Google, Google will give you “eater” as a translation. “Tukang makan” describes someone who has a habit of eating often, and it refers to someone who is obese.
In everyday conversation, sometimes “tukang” plus a verb has two meanings: either to describe a profession or a character. For example, “tukang pukul” means a bouncer by trade, but it is also used to describe someone’s bad character. An example of a bad character is a man who hits his wife or children.
“Tukang” plus a noun or a verb means a profession, a skilled laborer, or a craftsman.
- Tukang masak – can be a cook or a chef; it depends on the context.
- Tukang tagih – debt collector
- Tukang gigi – teeth maker
- Tukang sapu – (street) sweeper
- Tukang kayu – carpenter
- Tukang ledeng – plumber
- Tukang emas – goldsmith
- Tukang kebun – gardener
- Tukang sayur – vegetable vendor
- Tukang becak – pedicab driver
- Tukang ojek – motorcycle or bike taxi driver
- Tukang tagih – debt collector
- Tukang lelang – auctioneer
- Tukang sulap – wizard
- Tukang bakso – meatball seller
When “tukang” is added to a verb, it describes an undesirable habit or a character.
- Tukang gosip – gossipmonger or a gossiper
- Tukang nangis – whiner
- Tukang marah – short-tempered person
- Tukang bohong – someone who lies as her/his characteristic or habit
- Tukang tipu (colloquial; penipu formal), someone who has a job deceiving others for his/her financial gain
- Tukang ngambek (colloquial) – someone who is getting upset easily
So, how can you decide which word to use?
- If you want to describe a seller’s profession, add a word related to what the person is selling, such as “daging” which means “meat.” However, as Indonesia is a country with a majority Muslim population, this would imply that the seller is selling beef. So, we call the seller a “tukang daging,” a “butcher” or “beef-seller.”
- If you want to describe someone’s character, add another word after “tukang” that represents a habit that person has that you find annoying or disturbing. You can also create a “tukang plus a word” that describes a friend’s silly character trait, as a joke.
Let’s try the following exercise.
|2. barber||cutting men’s hair|
|3. tailor||making cloths|
|7. bread seller||bread|
|8. satay seller||satay|
|9. hair stylist||cutting hair at a hair salon|
|1. locksmith||key (kunci)||tukang kunci|
|2. barber||Cutting men’s hair (cukur)||tukang cukur|
|3. tailor||making cloths||tukang jahit|
|4. postman||mail (surat; post)||tukang pos|
|5. milkman||milk (susu)||tukang susu|
|6. masseur||massage (pijat)||tukang pijat|
|7. bread seller||bread (roti)||tukang roti|
|8. satay seller||satay (sate)||tukang sate|
|9. hair stylist||cutting hair at a hair salon||tukang potong rambut|
|10.electrician||Electricity (listrik)||tukang listrik|