While Malaysia’s main language is Malay, the language of the dominant Malay ethnic group, there are a reported 137 living languages in the nation. Government-sponsored schools teach three Asian languages (Malay, Chinese and Tamil), but they also require English, which has become the primary language of Malaysian higher education and business.
English has become so popular in Malaysia that a Malay/English creole has developed: MANGLISH!! To the non-Manglish speaker, the discerning syllable you hear in Manglish is “lah,” which appears in many Manglish phrases–for example, “Don’t be so worried-lah,” or “It’s okay lah,” or “What lah you?” which means, roughly, “How could you?” Check out Wikipedia’s entry on Manglish for some fun Manglish phrases, like,
— “Got or not?” spoken is rising tone means “Did that happen?” or “Do you have it?”
— “Where got?” spoken in rising exclamation means “No such thing” or “I don’t believe you”
— “Sure ah?” spoken in rising question tone means “Are you sure?”
— “Like dat cannot la!” spoken with serious expression means “I cannot accept it this way or in this condition”
— “..is it?” End any sentence with this question ignoring the grammar will mean “Is this/that correct?” or “Is the statement true?”
— “Eh hello!” (hey hello!) or just hello! spoken in the middle of a conversation means “That does not sound right” or “you don’t seem alright.” “You are not paying attention, please stay alert!”
In music class we love Manglish, but we’re still going to say hello and goodbye in Malay:
goodbye: Sampai nanti
More information about Manglish:
More Manglish phrases: (What they say: “Why you so like that?” What they mean: “Why do you behave so unpredictably?”) | Manglish indie-pop | The Malaysian government cracks down on Manglish | Learn Malay in 64 easy lessons
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