June 15, 2008

#3 Manglish

Perhaps the most distinct and unique Malaysianism is the use of Manglish.

Manglish is a quaint colloquial style developed by Malaysia's melting pot of races (Chinese+Malay+Indian) since the country's colonialism by the British way back in the `50s.

Malaysians will have you know that Manglish is a certifiable, legitimate language of its own. Foreigners who attempt to speak Manglish are normally greeted with facetious praise.

Some common uses of Manglish:

"I'm on the way lah, on the way, on the way!"- lah is ubiquitously used and repetition is mandatory in Manglish.

"You got umbrella-ella-ella or not?"- use of got and or not is complementary and mostly to question.

"I can teach you how my milkshake is better than yours but I have to charge lor"- use of lor is mostly redundant in a grammatical sense but vital to Manglish execution.

To further illustrate use of Manglish, take this conversation for an example:

Mohammad Ali : Simon, you say want to lend me your car next week, sure or not?
Simon Khow : Your head lah, I was drunk then. Don't remember liao. Don't have, don't have.
Belen Singh : Yeah lah, Simon. I also heard you promise him. Where can like that one?
Simon Khow : What? Cannot ah? Want fight is it?
Mohammad Ali : Confucius say Chinaman with beer in hand acquires short term memory loss.

For tourists or foreigners unaccustomed to such difficult manner of speech, you must never disapprove of Manglish yet you should not attempt to imitate it. It is best that you either gaze pensively or laugh appreciatively to gain your Malaysian friend's approval and trust.


Lai said...

I freak out when I haer parents speak Manglish to the kids. Now talk about bad influence!

Do these fellas even realize their proficiency suck big time?

I blame it to kiasu mindset.

btw, do you still accept guest posts?

The Ironist said...

Hi Lai,

Yes, please mail me your post and we'll take it from there.

Thank you.


Lai said...

Your email is...?

www.madrid-3d.com said...

Thank you for your article, really effective piece of writing.

Ev Cgkpg said...

Hi, a real Malaysian here whose first language is Malaysian English. I must say I cringe every time someone refers to my first language as Manglish - mostly because it is NOT mangled English. It is afterall rule based - that's why at the end of your post you advised foreigners not to imitate it - because it is not easy to just imitate. It's a real language that needs to be learnt before anyone can speak it. I get so mad with people who look down on it, not realizing that it is our identity. Ok, I'm getting off my high horse now. Sorry, ah. Sensitive issue lah.