Keeping in touch

Learning the language: a practical alternative
Malaysian English, which has been dubbed Malaysia as opposed to assistants to Singapore English ('Singlish), has evolved its town usages, abbreviations and expressions. Its very distinctive pronunciation can be almost unintelligible to visitors when they first arrive the first thing many visitors notice is the use of the suffix lah which is attched to just about anything and means absolutely nothing English has been spoken in the Malay world since the late 18th century but over time it has been mixed with local terms the converse has also happened English has corrupted Malay to such a degree that it is now quite common to hear the likes of you pergi mana? For where are you going? In abbreviated Malaysian Chinese English can is a key word can-ah ? (inflection) means may i? can-lah means yes; cannot means no way; also can means yes but I’d prefer you not to and how can? Is an expression of disbelief .

The man who first applied the term manglish to mangled Malaysian English was Chinese-Malaysian satirist kit leee in his book adoi (which means ouch) it gives an uncannily accurate and very humorous pseudo-anthropological rundown on Malaysia inhabitants his section on Manglish which should be pronounced exactly as it is written is introduced; Aitelyu-ah, nemmain wat debladigarmen say mose Malaysians tok manglish donkair you Malay or Chinese or Indian or everything mksup we Malaysians orways tok like dis wan-kain onu below are extracts from his glossary of common manglish words and phrases(which will help decipher the above).

Atoyu (wat) gentle expression of triumph; what did tell you?

Baiwanfriwan play used mainly by shop assistants to promote sales; if you buy one you’ll ger one free
Betayudon mild warning as in you’d getter not do that
Debaldigarmen contraction of the bloody government; widely used scapegoat; for all of life’s disappointments delays denials and prohibitions
Hauken another flexible expression applicable in almost any situation eg that’s not right impossible or don’t tell me
izzenit from isn’t it? But applied very loosely at the end of any particular statement to elicit and immediate response eg yused you will spin me abet izzenit?
Kennonot request or enquiry contraction of can or not may or will you or is it possible?
Nola a dilute negative used as a device to interrupt deny or cancel someone else’s ststement
Oridi contraction of already
Sohau polite interrogative usually used as a greeting as in will how are thing whit you
Tingwat highly adaptable expression stemming grom what do you think
Wan-kain adjective denoting uniqueness contraction of one of a kind sometimes rendered as wan-kain onu (only)
Watudu rhetorical question but what can we do
Yala non-committal afreement liberally used when cofronted with abore
Yusobadwan expression of mild reproachthat’s not very nice
With thanks to kit leee and his co-etymologists; rafique Rashid julian mokhtar and Jeanne mc donven leee, kit (1989 adoi times books international Singapore)

Television RTM1 and RTM2 are op-rated h Radio Television Malaysia, the government run broadcasting station apart from locally produced programmes some American and British series are town. Three other channels are commercially run there is a broad mixture of content from Chinese kung fu movies to Tamil musicals and English-language and series. On the three commercial station, all programmes are liberally interspersed with advertising, most of it for cigarette and leading tobacco companies sponsor film shows. Programmes for all channel are listed in daily newspapers. Singapore Broadcasting Service programmes can be received as far north as Melaka and are often listed in Malaysian papers. The government has long resisted the arrival of satellite TV, believing it to be a cultural polluter. To supplement local TV news, CNN was rebroadcast for an hour every night and since March 1994, BBC World Service Television has also been allowed in. It too is rebroadcast however, enabling government censors to review the output.

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