Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Manglish Lesson

I have come to realize that the most useful version of English in the world is Manglish. Pretty bold statement, I suppose you without any Malaysian blood may say. But if you really took some time to learn a few phrases in Manglish, sooner or later you're gonna wonder how you ever got through life without some of these words. SO. I have decided to list out a few common phrases for you [yes you, the non-Malaysian] to learn and hopefully one day, use. Don't get me wrong. I'm not forcing you or anything; I'm merely enlightening you so that *I* may use them myself in the days to come [and you will understand what I mean when I do].

The most famous "Lah".
"Lah" is undoubtedly the first sound of Manglish that foreigners will hear and probably pick up soon enough. It is an additive you can add at the end of a word or a sentence to strengthen the expression.
Here are some examples of how we use the "lah":
Okay-lah! (The different tone of the speaker determines how willingly the person is agreeing to the subject discussed)
Can-lah! (This is often used to beg for something or favor)
Cannot-lah! (Well, to refuse somebody's begging...)
Yes-lah! (An unwilling way to say yes, also depending on the tone of speaker)
No-lah! (To strengthen your disagreement or decline to something)
Come on-lah! (Normally used to persuade people to change their opinion or attitude)
You can use the "lah" in almost any situation. Like: good-lah, nice-lah, no-sweat-lah, Don't-lah like that!, very clever-lah,etc.


A few other suffixes include:

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

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

meh : Used when asking questions, especially when a persion is skeptical of something.
Eg. "Really meh?"


ah : Derived from the Chinese expression "a". Used at the end of sentences, but unlike "meh", the question is rhetorical. Also used when asking a genuine question. Besides that, some people use it when referring to a subject before making a (usually negative) comment.
Eg. "Why is he like that ah?"
"Is that true ah?"
"My brother ah, always disturb me!"

lor : Used when explaining something.
Eg. "Like that lor!"


Some random words to know:

"Kacau" [kah-chao'] means 'disturb' or stir things up in Malay. There are friendly 'kacau' and unfriendly 'kacau's. Sometimea, we just phone or visit our friend to kacau him/her from 'peaceful' loneliness. And there are some guys who always like to kacau girls! And normally we don't welcome people who will just come and ka-ka-cau-cau when we are busy doing or enjoying something.
Eg. "I don't like that guy-lah. He always kacau me in class.

" Eh, little boy, ka-ka-cau-cau me only! Go go go!"

"Blur" > confused, out-of-it. Roughly equivalent to "spacey" in American slang.
Eg. "Aiyah, that Jane always very blur lah. Don't ask her about these kinda things."

"Slumber" > relaxed, laid-back; possibly a conflation of the Malay "selamba", meaning nonchalant, and the English "slumber".
Eg. "Ya, Jason slumber only walked in and took the camera with him without telling us"

These are only a handful of the words/phrases that are so engraved in us Malaysians, making us the unique and weird people we are. If you'd like to learn more, do indulge in the wonderful world of the INTERNET, maybe try searching places like
  • THIS wikipedia page

  • or THIS one

  • or this china version of manglish which i don't really use much


  • Or if you are more 'semangat' [haha,look it up], you could even check this out.


    [p.s. sorry this post is kinda messy.]

    3 comments:

    Bern_bern said...

    Fuyoh!It's the vely vely chun la! Now we got a Mangrish dictionaly.hhahaha..
    Did you compile it yourself?(I know Arielle asked the same question) Yea, it is relaxing to use Manglish sometimes..Keeps us away from all the formalities, and 'officialness' hehehe..;) so much fun! good job

    Paul Tan said...

    Whoah. Tt even has a Wikipedia page. I've never been so proud being a Malaysian :P

    Zach said...

    So, I know this post is very old, but your blog URL got buried in my favorites. But here I am, and I love-lah "lah".

    How was my usage?

    Hope you're doing well!

    It's been awhile...