Wednesday, 22 February 2006


So I wonder which guy went up and gave Wikipedia the heads up on our wonderfully crafted english.


Theoretically, English as spoken in Malaysia is based on British English and called Malaysian English. British spelling is generally followed. However, the influence of American English modes of expression and slang is strong, particularly among Malaysian youth.

Since 1968, Malay, or Bahasa Melayu, has been the country's sole official language. While English is widely used, many Malay words have become part of common usage in informal English or Manglish (also means Mangled English). An example is suffixing sentences with lah, e.g. "Don't be so worried-lah", which is usually used to present a sentence as rather light-going and not so serious, the suffix has no specific meaning. Although Chinese dialects also make abundant use of the suffix lah and there is some disagreement as to which language it was originally borrowed from. There is also a strong influence from Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, and Tamil, which are other major dialects and languages spoken in Malaysia. Manglish also uses some anachronistic British terms from the era of British colonization (see "gostan" and "outstation" below).

Manglish Particles

1. "lah" - Often used at the end of sentences, used to affirm a statement (similar to 'of course'), usually ends with an exclamation mark. Eg. "Don't be an idiot lah!"

2. "mah" - Used at the end of sentences, used to affirm a sentence, but not as strongly as "lah". Eg. "She's like that mah.."

3. "nah" - Derived from the Malay expression, "Nah!". Used when giving something to another person. Eg. "Nah, take this!"

4. "meh" - Used when asking a question, especially when one is skeptical of something. Eg. "Really meh?"

5. "liao" - Means 'already'. Eg. "No more liao."

6. "ah" - Used at the end of sentences, unlike 'meh' the question is rhetorical. Eg. "Why is he like that ah?" Can also be used to when asking a genuine question. Eg. "Is that true ah?" Besides that, some people use it when referring to a subject before making a comment(often used to make a negative comment). Eg. "My brother ah, always disturb me!"

7. "lor" - Used when explaining something. Eg. "Like that lor!"

8. "leh" - Used to soften an order, making it less harsh. Eg. "Give me that leh."

9. "one" - Used as an emphasis at the end of a sentence. Eg. "Why is he so naughty one?"

10. "what" - Unlike the British/Americans, the word 'what' is often used as an exclamation mark, not just to ask a question. Eg. "What! How could you do that?"

11. "got" - Used as a literal translation from the Malay word 'ada'. The arrangement of words are often also literally translated. Eg. "You got anything to do?" ("Kamu ada apa-apa nak buat?"). This particular particle is widely abused in Manglish, mainly because of the difficulty for the Manglish speaker of comprehending the various correct uses of the English verb 'to have'. Therefore, 'got' is substituted for every tense of the verb. Eg. "I got already/got/will got my car from the garage."


Speakers of Manglish from the country's different ethnic groups tend to intersperse varying amounts of expressions or interjections from their mother tongue - be it Malay, Chinese or Indian - which, in some cases, qualifies as a form of code-switching.

Verbs or adjectives from other languages often have English affixes, and conversely sentences may be constructed using English words in another language's syntax. People tend to translate phrases directly from their first languages into English, for instance, "on the light" instead of "turn on the light".

Due to exposure to other languages and dialects, particularly within the national school system, members of a particular ethnic group may be familiar with phrases or expressions originating from languages other than their mother tongue and may, in fact, apply them in their daily speech, regardless of the ethnicity of their audience. This is especially true in the case of interjections and vulgar slang.

Of late Malaysians have been more creative, and more Malay and Chinese words have been converging with English words. It's very simple, just find a Malay verb, and add the word "-ing", "-fied", "-able" etc.

Words and grammar

Manglish nouns:

* "barsket" - derived from 'bastard', general derogatory term. May also be derived from 'basket case'
* "bladibarsket" - derived from 'bloody bastard', profane derogatory term
* "kapster" - a talkative person
* "maluation" - embarrassment, from "malu" + "-ation"
* "outstation" - out of town (i.e, going outstation)
* "terrer" - (pronounced as the English "Terror") Refers to someone or something being awesomely amazing or good. (i.e. "Bloody hell, that guy is terrer!")

Manglish adjectives:

* "aiksy/lan si" - arrogant, overconfident. Possibly derived from 'acting up'
* "blur" - confused, out of it

Manglish verbs:

* "gostan" - reverse a vehicle (apparently from the nautical term "go astern" (Mostly used in Kelantan))
* "jadi" - happened, succeeded (derived from the Malay word 'jadi', and may sometimes mean 'so' as in, So what?)
* "jalan" - to walk
* "kena" - to get caught, to get punished; often used like a noun ("I sure kena if I cheat")
* "kantoi" - to get caught
* "cabut/cantas" - to run off, flee or to escape ('Cabut' is a Malay word meaning to pull or pulling out)
* "makan" - to eat
* "minum" - to drink
* "on/off" - to activate/deactivate something, respectively
* "pengsan" - to faint
* "pon" - to skip school (from "ponteng", meaning the same)
* "saman" - to issue a traffic ticket, from summons
* "tahan" - to stand, to bear ("Cannot tahan her perfume! So strong!")
* "tumpang-ing" - riding in someone else's vehicle or lodging at someone else's house, from the Malay verb "tumpang" + "-ing"
* "any Malay word + ing" - doing a certain action ('Tengah makan' or 'I'm eating right now' is shortened to 'Makan-ing')

Manglish exclamations:

* "best/syok" - indicates the object as superlatively good
* "die/finish/gone/habis/mampus/si" - generic exclamations to indicate trouble, used like the English 'damn it' or 'to face the music'

Manglish grammar:

* "(Subject + predicate), is it?" - this is often used as a question. "It" doesn't refer to the subject, but rather to the entire preceding clause ("Is it so?")

Now everyone knows what the heck we are talking about. So much for our secret english code.