In English, as a child, I was taught that the two words above meant “awe” and “awesome” respectively (I am aware that DBP says otherwise, but bear with me here). These days, I feel the word awesome is kinda overused, at least among the net generation like myself. We use the word awesome to admire things that are really respectable and admirable, but they don’t often inspire awe. I don’t feel the word “awesome” has as much punch as the word “awe” does these days, and that is rather sad when “awesome” means so much more than just regular “awe.”
Kagum, and mengagumkan, on the other hand to me, still signifies that awe. It’s that moment of wonderment, that moment of discovery, that moment when you can feel, within your entire being, that the world stops and you simply bask in that awesomeness of the moment. It is that moment that takes your breath away, that moment when you learnt the joy of learning, the moment when you see the sun set and you think, “That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my entire life” and that moment when you feel you have been swept off your feet and the world has simply stopped.
This is in a joyous kind of way, might I add. Kagym inspires a kind of joyful wonder that grows lesser the older we grow.
Kagum can be used in so many different ways too. As the root word, it can also carry the meaning “amazed” if used in the first person perspective.
“Saya kagum,” can mean “I’m amazed/impressed.” Mengagumkan, on the other hand, has just the meanings “Awesome” or “admired.”
“Dia mengagumkan” is “He/she is amazing.” There’s also “Saya mengagumkan dia,” which translates to “I admire him/her.”
Such a simple word that rolls off the tongue. Kagum is pronounced as “KA” as in car with a silent r, and “gun” with a more rolled off M? Not too sure how to describe it, but I’ve always loved the word “kagum” instead of “awesome.” It just… describes things better.
So the next time you see something that’s struck you with awe, try saying “mengagumkan” instead to them, especially if they know Malay. Tell me how it goes.