Pisang Goreng – Addressing a Common Mistake

Have anyone tried banana fritters before? It is english for pisang goreng.
Or you knew them by the name, goreng pisang?Pisang Goreng, Source Image from Wikipedia.Org

Everytime I see this word, I cringe as it is incorrect. Some Malay folks perpetuated the confusion by calling it goreng pisang too! Why am I so particular about this? The reason is very simple.

Pisang Goreng means Fried Banana. Goreng Pisang means Frying Banana. See the difference?

Goreng is a verb when used in front of a noun (pisang), but when it is used behind a noun, it is an adjective. In the strictest, most correct grammar, fried banana is ‘pisang digoreng‘ and frying banana is ‘menggoreng pisang‘ but the meaning is understood when the prefixes are dropped, since the sequence is the same. In Malay, when the prefix is dropped from ‘menggoreng pisang‘ in writing as well as in conversation, it is recognised as a transitive verb.

I do not know why even Malay folks make this simple mistake. I definitely do not see them describing fried chickens as goreng ayam?! No! They say by the correct word which is ayam goreng!

So why did they not apply the same rule & logic to pisang goreng . If someone does not make this correct soon, goreng pisang would be so accepted as the correct way to describe banana fritters and all is lost for the next generation.

A friend shared with me his thoughts on this;

while i agree with what you say i thought you might be fighting a lost cause so i googled both “goreng pisang” and “pisang goreng” thinking the former would be more common – after all i almost always hear and say it that way round.

but while “goreng pisang” returned 30,800 results, “pisang goreng” came back with 128,000!

so maybe it is because of chinese or peranakan usage? Peranakans use chinese grammar with malay words which might be the reason for the inversion? hmm but off hand i can’t think of another example. all the food i can think of follows the noun-adjective word order (ayam buah keluak, unless of course it is made up of all chinese words (tau yu bak).

the only other explanation i can think of is that “pisang” is actually the adjective and “goreng” the noun (as in opor ayam? or possibly satay ayam?). when you go to a *ahem* goreng pisang stall they sell lots of other fried stuff – “goreng” – so wanting the banana flavoured as opposed to cempedak flavoured you ask for “goreng pisang”. (ok even i don’t really believe this!!!)

the entry in wikipedia is “goreng pisang” (with no entry for “pisang goreng”)
this is your chance to correct something!

And so I did, so unless someone changed it back, my corrections will remain on Wiki for now. :)

12:36, 1 June 2006 Earth (Talk | contribs) m (moved Goreng pisang to Pisang goreng: grammar (Malay))
03:04, 14 March 2006 Juzzywuzzy (Talk | contribs) (This article initially described “fried banana” as “goreng pisang”. This is a common mistake made. In Malay grammar, “fried banana” means “pisang goreng”. The action comes after the object.) (undo)

Note: This is a re-post from my previous blog on LiveJournal. I have to thank Ceddric & Uncle Marc for their contributions to this post. The image for this post is taken from Wikipedia under Creative Commons license.