Hello Mister :-)
Replies: 62 - Last Post: Jul 4, 2012 6:49 AM Last Post By: Laszlo
Jun 29, 2012 12:58 PM
Hello Mister :-)Every time I was in Indonesia, I was musing about the omnipresent "Hello Mister" calls but couldn't fathom out the sense. Sometimes it sounds cute, somtimes funny, sometimes annoying and sometimes even a little bit aggressive and sneering. 20 years ago and today, no matter where you are, but always only in Indonesia.
Im sure everybody knows it.
Most times I just smile and pass over, but sometimes I feel like greeting someone with "Hello Mister" before he'll do.
What is your opinion? Is it a relict from the time of colonialism or just a funny originality of Indonesia, or sometimes mucking about the tourits? Although indonesia is so miscellanius in that point it's everywhere the same, from Sumatra to Java and Bali.
Edited by: noalwa07
Jun 29, 2012 4:03 PM
1A teenager said it to me once in East Timor, and I replied (in bahasa indonesia) "I'm not a Mr I'm a Mrs!' Boy did he get some ribbing from his friends, it was hilarious.
Either I look like a man, or he had no idea what he was saying. (I'm going with the latter).
I think it's a mixture of a friendly greeting, and a bit of mucking around. I hadn't noticed before that it's only in Indonesia.
Jun 29, 2012 7:45 PM
2'Hello Mister' has puzzeled many over the decades and will keep doing so as long as many westerners visit Indonesia.
Initially it was said to just say something to you. As until a few years ago hardly any Indonesian citizen was able to speak more English than a mere 'Yes-No, Yes-No' or 'Mister' (as they put it themselfs) and it is common in the country to at least greet someone in someway, they thought 'Hello Mister' to be most appropriate.
Later it also became a means of attrackting attention, to sell you something or to try to get in touch with you.
Obviously a lot of bored and/or naughty young men use the 'Hello Mister' as a kind of sneer or even in a way as 'where do you think you're going?'. There exist even a few popular "Indlish" songs about Indonesians seeing foreigners entering their neighbourhood.
But there is more. Most western men are considered "ridiculously" tall and in Indonesian the word 'mistar' means as much as 'straightedge' or also 'crossbar' (of a football goal). So, many young men don't actually greet you with 'Hello Mister', but teasingly with 'Helo Mistar' :-) :-) :-)
Jun 29, 2012 8:22 PM
3For me it’s up for grabs what is the most hilarious thing I’ve read on this forum this week.
The three choices are:
-Nylon stockings as appropriate gifts for Indonesian women.
-“ If an Indonesian person invites you to stay at his house the tradition is that HE should give YOU a gift, not the other way around.”
“So, many young men don't actually greet you with 'Hello Mister', but teasingly with Helo Mistar”
Jun 29, 2012 8:33 PM
4the word Pak in Indonesian is a respectful title for Mister and used very frequently here when addressing an older male. Halo Pak is literally hello mister.
That's it. For Indonesians it feels disrespectful to address someone without a 'title' like Pak, but most don't realize that while Pak is fine to use in itself, without a name in Indonesian, Mister in English isn't, and they should use, if anything, Sir instead.
However, I think I hear gradually less and less Hello Mister (though it's still the most common thing to shout at foreigners) and more and more Hello Sir these days - maybe some school textbooks were rewritten, or just teachers are getting a bit more competent? :-)
Women irritated by Hello Mister might be pleased to hear that Hello Miss is often shouted at men, too - many kids seem to think Mis(s) is just a shortened form of Mister, as is Pak for Bapak!
Bali's touts tend to use Hi Mate.
Jun 29, 2012 8:52 PM
5"For Indonesians it feels disrespectful to address someone without a 'title' like Pak, but most don't realize that while Pak is fine to use in itself, without a name in Indonesian, Mister in English isn't, and they should use, if anything, Sir instead."
Mister has been adopted into the Indonesian language...check your kamus. Its definition in the kamus bahasa Indonesia is "a term of address or reference for a Caucasian male." Ironically it also has a colloquial meaning defined as "term of address for male and female Caucasians." In the kamus Indonesia, the word sir has totally different meanings than in English…i.e. mystical, the sound of hissing, etc.
As for our school books being re-written…nope, and with our three boys attending Indonesian schools, we have a lot of school books sitting around our home.
To this day I haven't heard any Indonesian kids using the term "hello Sir" but I do agree it would be preferable over "hello mister."
"Bali's touts tend to use Hi Mate."
Not outside of Kuta, and let's remember, Kuta isn't at all indicative of Bali.
BTW, Harry, (post #5) I just got two PM’s from fellow Indonesian friends having a great laugh over your “Helo Mistar” theory, and they, like me, would love to learn where on earth you came up with that hypothesis.
Jun 29, 2012 9:24 PM
6No need to check my dictionary - I know pretty well what Mister means in Indonesian. I agree that it often refers to any Caucasian regardless of sex - sometimes I hear Indonesians specifically talk of a "Mister perempuan" (female Mister).
However when Indonesians shout 'Hello Mister' to foreigners, they are trying to greet them in English. Otherwise they'd say "Selamat pagi Mister" or whatever.
I heard " Hi Mate, transport?" in Ubud more than once.
Basically, it's Bali tout-talk, heard in all touristy areas.
Jun 29, 2012 9:37 PM
7"However when Indonesians shout 'Hello Mister' to foreigners, they are trying to greet them in English."
And they are greeting them in English, as well as in Indonesian (from a technical albeit not general usage point of view).
It's not incorrect English to use the term Hello Mister when addressing any male of age greater than one's own. It would be preferable to use Hello Sir, but certainly not incorrect to use mister.
I'm in Ubud every day Laszlo and can't recall ever hearing anyone call out, "Hi Mate, transport?" Maybe you were wearing a tee shirt from OZ? ;<)
Jun 29, 2012 9:57 PM
8My single AU T-shirt is rare souvenir which I don't wear in Indo.
The more obvious explanation might be that as you live in Ubud, the local touts already know you and don't hope to get your business even if you are American. But if you if you are keen to hear it aimed at tourists, just spend some time listening in a 100 meter radius around the junction near Ubud palace and the "tourist office" - that's where it seems most common. Turning up in that area with a backpack or dragging a suitcase on wheels looking like someone wanting to get out of Ubud probably helps, too! ;-)
Jun 29, 2012 10:04 PM
9I'm talking about what I hear Laszlo, not what's called out to me.
The Balinese drivers are pretty good spotting Australians, so I’m not saying that “hello mate” is never used by drivers in Ubud. The general call one usually hears in Ubud is simply, “transport” or “taxi” intoned as a question.
You wrote in post #7: "Bali's touts tend to use Hi Mate." That simply isn't true.
BTW, I'm Indonesian now.
Jun 29, 2012 10:58 PM
Jun 30, 2012 12:37 AM
11“Or more likely being disrespectful.”
Given the reputation of the Balinese people for friendliness and charm, do you think they got that way by being raised to act disrespectfully to foreign guests?
That some foreign guests would automatically assume the worse intentions in our kids speaks more eloquently about them, than it does about our kids.
Jun 30, 2012 1:32 AM
Jun 30, 2012 2:14 AM
Jun 30, 2012 3:03 AM
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