Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Here follows a sample of Manglish (Malaysian or mangled English) from Adoi!

Aitelyu-ah, nemmain wat debladigarmen say, mose Malaysians tok Manglish. Bekoswai? Bekos we all shai oni to spik proper English - afturds people ting we trying to action oni. But talk Manglish is best-la when you want to simply tokkok like fren-fren, la. Donkair you Malay or Chinese or Indian or everything miksup: at the mamak stall, on the awfis, sitting around in the kopi-shop, we Malaysians orways tok like dis wan-kain oni - got kick wat! you want to tokkok osoken, no problem we gifchan you flers, la. Simply by-heart the following list of popular Manglish words and phrases, and very soon oridi you can go round blarfing like tera oni.

A Condensed Glossary of Common Manglish Words and Phrases

atoyu (wat) - gentle expression of triumph: "What did I tell you?"

aidontch-main - corruption of 'I don't mind' - the extraneous "ch" indicates that the speaker is well aware of the subtleties of the English language and is making an effort to sound teh "t" in "don't".

aiseman - contraction of "I say, man!" A totally meaningless utterance, most commonly used by those with absolutely nothing to say.

aisked (la) - confession of nervousness, as in "I'm scared, I don't have the guts to do it."

barsket - uncouth interjection; a term of derision, often preceded by teh prefix bladi. Probably a mangling of "blasted", "bastard" and "bugger". An all-purpose expression of acute annoyance, as in "Damn!" or "Blast it!".

betayudon - mild warning, as in "You'd better not do that!"

bladihel - exclamation conveying intense irritation: corruption of "bloody hell!"

bollsdar - rude retort favoured by Malaysian Indians: essentially a scrotal reference devolved from "balderdash" or "bollocks". The deliberate slurring of the commonly heard vernacular suffix "la" imparts a more fervent measure of vulgarity.

chipsket - contraction of "cheapskate", somebody not known to be generous. Also used to describe anything low-cost.

dai-la - term of commiseration, usually mock, used in situations where an element of anxiety is present, e.g., "Oh dear, that means you've had it! or "Oh well, that's the end of that!" or "Shit, I'm in real trouble!"

debladigarmen - contraction of "the bloody government"; widely used as a scapegoat for all of life's disappointments, delays, denials, and prohibitions.

defler - contraction of "that fellow".

(don) tokkok - playful insult (Don't talk rubbish); the etymology of tokkok is uncertain but it probably derives from "talk cock" - as in "cock-and-bull stories."

fler - personal and/or impersonal reference, originally a contraction of "fellow" but frequently applied in neuter gender, e.g., You flers better wochaut! (Don't any of you try to be funny!)

fraskes - noun applied to any individual caught in an unenviable impasse; someone whose cases is frustating. Could also imply sexual deprivation.

gifchan (la) - half serious plea, as in "Please give me a chance, will you!" Could also mean "Do me a favour."

hauken - another flexible expression applicable in almost any situation, e.g., "That's not right!" or "Impossible" or "Don't tell me!"

ho-laif - adverb, meaning perpetually: contraction of "whole life".

huseso - as above: "Who said so?" Alternatively, hused.

hutoyu - mild challenge, as in "Who told you?"

izit - expression of mild unbelief, as in "Is that so?"

izzenit - from "isn't it?" but applied very loosely at the end of any particular statement to elicit an immediate response, e.g. Yused you will spen me a beer, izzenit? (You said you will buy me a beer, didn't you?)

kennonot - request or enquiry, contraction of "can or not?": "May I?" or "Will you?" or "Is it possible?"

kenoso - affirmative, "can also": in other words, "It's quite all right with me."

las-taim - expression denoting the past (last time) though not necessarily in any specific sense, e.g., las-taim we orways see picture but nowadays we like to see ooidio oni.

mebeken - contraction of "maybe can": in other words, "It may be possible..."

nemmain - casual dismissal: "Never mind."

notshai (wan) - from "not shy one" - meaning shameless, or not standing upon ceremony.

nola - a dilute negative, used as a device to interrupt, deny, or cancel someone else's statement.

oridi - contraction of "already".

osoken - affirmative, as above, with very subtle shift of emphasis: e.g. osoken kenoso means you may use these terms interchangeably.

shiok (oni) - expression of intense pleasure, etymology obscure.

sofanochet - meaning, "it hasn't happened yet"; can also be shortened to nochet, a slurring of "not yet".

sohau - polite interrogative, usually used as greeting, e.g., "Well how are things with you?" or "How goes it?"

so-poorting - expression of sympathy or condolence: "You poor thing!"

tera - noun describing someone who inspires awe; corruption of "terror". Often has a positive connotation, as in defler tera ladykiller la!

tingwat - highly adaptable expression stemming from "What do you think?". May be used as a challenge ("Who cares what you think!"; a rhetorical question ("Well how about that!?"); or as a friendly insult ("Please don't inflict your abysmal ignorance on us!") - depending on context and intonation.

wan-kain (wan) - adjective denoting uniqueness, oddness, weirdness, extraordinariness: contraction of one of a kind (with one repeated for a rhythmic symmetry). Sometimes rendered as wan-kain oni (only).

watudu - rhetorical question: "But what can we do?"

yala - non-commital agreement, liberally used when confronted with a bore. A tring of yalas issuing forth from your hapless listener is a sure sign that he or she wishes to terminate the conversation as soon as possible.

yesa - general expression of interest, usually inserted as a question during conversations, as in "Oh really?"

yu-a-yu - term of friendly accusation, meaning, "You are really too much!"

yusobadwan - expression of mild reproach: "That's not very nice!"


David Cho said...

Interesting list. Is this a good list of things to have to try to attract Malaysian women (if I can find any around here)?

I will have to compile a sample of Konglish.

Jenn said...

I donno about attracting Malaysian women with these. Maybe Malaysian men, now that's a thought...:)

dorkette said...

After reading over your blog, my ignorance of the world outside of the US is totally slapping me in the face. I have a lot to learn. Shoot, moving to the midwest from California was a big stretch for me. I'm pathetic!

goldennib said...

Jenn, I love this and your previous post. I was reading some websites:
but your info is much more interesting and personal.
The History Channel International had a segment on last night called "The Twin Towers of the East." I got about 15 minutes of it because my bedtime is 8:30pm and it came on at 9pm.

"History Traveler
Twin Towers of the East.
Rising almost 1,500 feet high, the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia were named the world's tallest in 1996 by the Council on Tall Buildings. Connecticut architect Cesar Pelli blended traditional Islamic motifs with the modern skyscraper to create a beacon to the new Asia. Join us as we tour this gateway to the East, an engineering marvel involving experts from around the globe and the determination of Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad to transform his country into a 21st-century power."

I find it fascinating that half of your country is on a peninsula and half on an island. And it is so diverse.

Do you live near Kuala Lumpur or near Borneo?

Jenn said...

I live in Kuala Lumpur. Or Kayel (KL) as we call it over here. I forgot to mention our propensity for abbreviating everything. Like if you lived in Johor Bahru, you would call it JB (or Jaybee). If you lived in Kota Kinabalu or Kuala Kangsar you would refer to either as Kaykay (which could get a little confusing, except if you remember that Kota Kinabalu is in Borneo and the other Kaykay is in the Peninsular, so if a person says Kaykay to you, you would probably know which one they're talking about based on where they live).

I visited Sabah (in Borneo) for the first time this year. Although it is apparently on the travel alert list (asking you not to travel there because you may be kidnapped by pirates) I found the people there much much nicer than us (the Peninsulareans). They were polite on the roads (hardly ever honked or cut into each other's lanes) and regarded us with amused tolerance, knowing from our accents that we came from West Malaysia.

We were suitably apologetic.

goldennib said...

I noticed in reading about Malaysia all of the acronymns. And there are so many political parties.

A thinker said...

That's very interesting :-)

I have to say, even in the multicultural environment of Toronto, I don't remember having any Malaysian friends. Probably met some, though.

Jenn said...

Nessa: Yeah. And our major political parties are all race-based which makes it interesting.

A thinker: You probably have you know, entertained a Malaysian, unawares...

grace chow said...

I was a M'sian Chinese, but now I'm a Canadian, according to my passport. However, I'd like to think of myself as 'international' n a free spirit, or rather, I used to b a free spirit. I'm in my 50s now- weighed down by family responsibilites, etc. I was a hippie once upon a time.
Anyone who would like to email with an ex-M'sian, is most welcome to email me.

Antares said...

Unearthly the things Google unearths! I truly appreciate your gracious acknowledgment of my pioneering work in the lexicology of Manglish, Jenn, but I certainly hope being a self-appointed authority on Manglish isn't my only claim to "greatness" (Antares is my current User ID, dropped "Kit Leee" in 1992 ;-)