Just about two years, I wrote a short post about boso walikan Malang, or Malang backwards language. This is neat kind of linguistic game found primarily in the East Javanese city of Malang in which words are pronounced backwards, so boso walikan Malang -> osob kiwalan Ngalam.
I observed in that post that to the best of my knowledge, all sorts of linguistic rules continue to be followed in the backwards version:
…the morphosyntactic constraints on word formation. For example, affixes are not included in the reversal.
makanan [makan + an] -> nakaman, not *nanakam
Moreover, syllable-shaping rules continue to operate.
banjir [= flood] -> rinjab, not *rijnab
cina [= Chinese] -> onit, not *onic.
Returning to that same restaurant for lunch today, however, I happened upon a server wearing a pin that read ayas genaro Ngalam (sorry, no picture), meaning “I am a person from Malang.” Interestingly, this phrase violates what I take to be the very basic phonological rules that govern boso walikan.
The specific problem is the word genaro. Were this to follow the standard way of producing boso walikan from Indonesian, this would read ayas ngaro Ngalam.
saya -> ayas [= I]
orang -> ngaro [= person]
Malang -> Ngalam
(I am not the first to have noticed this.)
What’s going on here? Probably what happened is that the person making the pin focused on the written word orang rather than the spoken version. Because the word gnaro is not a grammatical word shape in Indonesian or Javanese, an “e” was added to make one. But this is merely a consequence of the Dutch and now Indonesian alphabet using two letters to represent one consonant (ŋ). I wonder how frequently this happens in the traditional spoken form; my guess is never. If there happen to be any experts on boso walikan reading this, leave your thoughts in the comments.