Malaysian is a multicultural and multilingual cesspool. We often get lost in translation here in Malaysia when they change their tuners to their own lingo when conversing. One thing that fascinates people the most is the fact that most Malaysians can speak up to 3 languages fluently. If you are here vising and have taken curiosity on the way we speak. Here are a few handy pointer for you to channel your inner Malaysian. PS : It is highly addictive.
1. Lah (L-ah)
There is no definition of the word lah. And it has no meaning. We usually use it at the end of our sentences to make syllable to end on an even number. And on special sentences, we just use it cause it sounds good on the roll of our tongue. Sounds technical? Try it without saying the word lah on an odd numbered syllable sentence.
Don’t want lah.
I dont want.
2. Sudah Makan (Su-dah Ma-kan?)
In our culture, it is accustomed to ask about food. We dont ask about the weather or hows your family or everything else. What we have in our minds is all about food. Regardless of the language and the culture, we always ask everyone, ” Have you eaten?” .The word Sudah Makan is the Malay language of that question.
Henry, you sudah makan?
Henry, have you eaten?
3. Terima Kasih (Te-ri-ma Kah-sih)
Your cultural immersion is not complete if you don’t know how to say thank you in a local language. The humbleness of being thankful is greatly appreciate in all cultures and nations. Terima Kasih is a direct translation of the Malay Language of receiving love but what it means is Thank You in Malay.
Terima Kasih, Mary
Thank you, Mary
4. Jom (Joh-om)
We all are familiar with the phrase ” Let’s Go” when we want to head out. In Malaysia, we call it “Jom“. There is a debate on the origin of the word but it does not matter. In Malaysia we have tons of undefinable sounds and signs but we will get to that later.
Let’s go, eat.
5. Satu – Dua – Tiga (Sah-tu , Du-ah, Ti-gah)
Another set of words to add to your arsenal are numbers. Learning the lingo of counting is extremely helpful when it comes to buying stuff or just getting to know how much you’re gonna pay. Malay is the default language of Malaysia and here is how we count.
6. Selamat Pagi (Se-lah-mat Pah-gi)
Another important phrase to get in in your mental dictionary is the phrase Selamat Pagi. The meaning of the word directly translates to Good Morning. Which is the meaning of the word in English which is, good morning…. Simply said and explained.
Selamat Pagi, Erik
Good Morning, Erick.
7. Tapao (Tah-pao)
Putting on a new twist to lingo, we now have a little taste of Cantonese in the mix. In Malayisa, one of the most common Chinese dialects is spoken Cantonese. We often need to take away food to be eaten later or to have it elsewhere. And you would bee surprised that many non Chinese knows the meaning of this word. The word tapao mean take away in Malaysian Cantonese. Keep in mind that the same word tapao in Hong Kong means death. So, please dont say this to your friendly Hong Kongese uncle in his restaurant.
Uncle, please dapao for me.
Uncle, I want to take away.
Learning to give praise is a great way to bond over local culture and give an impression of acceptance. In a country which revolves around food greatly, poses an importance of the word delicious to be in your vocab. The word sedap is a Malay word for delicious. Delicious fodd equals to happy people and smiles all around so learn it.
This Nasi Lemak is sedap
This Nasi Lemak is delicious.
9. Ah- Neh (Aah- Ne- h)
Let not forget the lingo we use when we go to a mamak. What is Mamak? Mamak is a Indian-Malay restaurant which serves heavenly creations of Maggi Goreng, Indian rice, Tosai and Roti at all hours of the day. The people who run these vital restaurants are often Malaysian Indians whose mother tongue is Tamil. Ah-Neh means elder brother and we Malaysians often call each other like family. So get use to it.
Ah Neh teh tarik satu
Big Brother, one teh tarik.
10. Pedas (Pe- das)
For you all non -spicy lovers, this is a valuable phrase to use when you dont want to destroy your toilet the next day. Malaysia is full of spicy food, intense sambals and hidden green chilies within your fried rice. To avoid all of this, ask for no chilies and you’ll be safe. The word pedas translates to spicy, If you dont want to get your tongue inflamed, use this word to save your misery.
Tak mau pedas.
Dont want spicy.
11. Belanja (Be- lan -jar)
If you are lucky you might come across this word from your kind hearted Malaysians. The word belanja means treat. Treating one another with food is something we do with one another. Or if you would like to treat someone, this is a great phrase to use in your Malaysian lingo coupled with the free stuff you are giving to someone.
I belanja you
I treat you.
12. Guai Lou (Gu-ai Lou)
This is a phrase you hear at times among Chinese Malaysians. Stemming from the Cantonese community in Malaysia, the word guai lou has two parts of its meaning. The word guai means ghost and lou means people and if you put it all together it means ghost people. It might sound offensive but I promise you it means no harm or any offence if anyone is using it. The term is used to describe white people and it has been used among the Cantonese community since the colonization of the British a long long time ago. So dont be offended if someone says guai lou, it just means white people despite of the meaning.
That guai lou’s table.
That white guys table.
13. BOSS (Boss)
Ah, this is the word that comes to handy when you address people in general. As you know, the meaning of boss in English. In Malaysia, the word boss is thrown around even that person you are addressing is not your superior in your workplace. We use the word boss to call someone or to address someone casually. So use it to your advantage.
Boss, one roti canai please.
Sir, one roti canai please.
14. Lengchai -Lenglui (Leng- cha-i or Leng- Lu-i)
If you get called either one of this, you are in luck. Calling you lengchai or lenglui is a definite compliment. Leng means beautiful or good looking in Cantonese. Chai means guy and lui means girl is their own respective meaning. So if you are called one or the other, smile and wave people.
Hey Leng chai, come and see.
Hey Handsome, come and see this.
Leng Lui, you forgot your bag.
Pretty Lady, you forgot your bag.
15. Bojio (Boh- jioo)
And finally, this last Malaysian lingo to get in your head is something we use among friends. This is the only Chinese Hokkien word of the bunch cause the Hokkien dialect is hard brah. The word bojio is easy to learn and it is easy to implement. It means “Why didnt you invite me?”. Yes, two small syllables means that whole sentence.
Brian: Henry, lets go to the cinema.
Liam: Brian, bojio!