Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Recents cases of vandalism on public and private properties irks residents

Recents cases of vandalism on public and private properties irks residents

Wednesday August 15, 2012

IN RECENT weeks, a red mysterious sign was sprayed on public and private properties in Serdang, Kajang, Puchong and Petaling Jaya, baffling residents.Kok Fook Thai, a dish washer at a hawker stall in Kampung Baru Balakong, said she was surprised to see the images sprayed on their stalls about a month ago."We were puzzled to see the symbols and angry about the act of vandalism. The perpetrator also sprayed the sign on a lorry," she said.Mysterious signs: The Dorje Shugden symbol in Taman Sungai Chua, Kajang.The story was recently highlighted by the Chinese press and some of the village heads who were interviewed on the story received a package containing books in English and Mandarin detailing the story of Dorje Shugden, a deity said to be related to Tibetan Buddhism a week after. The package also contained amulets and cards with images of the said deity.One of them was Seri Kembangan Federal Village Security and Development Committee chairman Tang Kim Loy."In the package was a letter supposedly written by worshippers of the deity who sent the books so that we would know more about the deity."They thanked us for promoting the religion, saying that it is a religious sect in Singapore."If I had not received the package, I would not know that it was a religious symbol," he said.According to Tang, the senders, however, did not claim responsibility for the acts of vandalism.The symbol can be seen around the Seri Kembangan New Village."We respect religious figures but this is not the way to promote it. It is an eyesore."It is also inappropriate to spray it on the Jade Emperor altar placed outside someone's house," he said.In an official statement in response to the recent reports in the Chinese press on the act of vandalism, the Vajrayana Buddhist Council of Malaysia executive committee stressed that none their member organisations practises the worship of the said spirit."We, Vajrayana Buddhist Council of Malaysia (VBCM), and all our member organisations, wish to state that the said acts reported in the press, is an act of vandalism, and it cannot be construed as a religious act in any circumstances."We urge the authorities to investigate the matter and to take action against the offenders. The said spirit is not part of any mainstream Tibetan/Vajrayana Buddhist practice."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Phua Chu Kang - Season 5 Episode 20 - The Godfather

An under-pressured Chu Kang inadvertently insults the Godfather, Vito Koh. In return for his life, Kang has to babysit the Godfather's eight-year old son, Michael, for him.

Ordinarily, looking after a little kid should be a stroll in the park for Kang but as Michael's son of the ruthless Godfather, Kang knows he has to keep both eyes on the boy. Which is exactly what he doesn't do. Things come to a head when he leaves Michael in the care of the clueless KingKong and Ah Goon and Michael disappears!

Monday, February 18, 2013

KL traffic back to normal!

Monday Feb18, 2013

Majority are back to work after a festive season of celebrating CNY2013, good ol' KL traffic is back to 'normal'.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Friday, October 5, 2012


A Manglish Primer

Contrary to popular myth, I didn't invent Manglish. Nor would I blame it on the Chinese either. As a distinctive language in its own right, Manglish has been evolving quietly and discreetly since the British introduced English to these shores - but it has only been in evident use for about half a century. Prior to 1945 local Anglophones generally attempted to speak "the King's English" (later replaced by the BBC Overseas Service Standard English). Or else they were content to squawk at each other in some lewd and loud local lingo.

When British rule ended in 1957, out went the rules of spoken English - and that's how Manglish rapidly became a functional intermediary between our official first and second languages, Bahasa Malaysia and Business English. I first heard Manglish spoken when I entered the garment (ackchwurly government) primary school - the same year Britain handed Malaya back to the Malayans. To celebrate Independence, we unstiffened our upper lips and reveled in the ecstatic freedom of "seemply tokking kok." No longer would we tolerate being accused of speaking Bad English. We could now proudly proclaim our mastery of Good Manglish.

At home my parents communicated in a curious mixture of Cantonese and Missionary English - which wasn't quite the same potent concoction as Street Manglish. Somehow the species of English spoken in pre-Merdeka days didn't have the gutsy gutturality of Proper Manglish - perhaps because the local Anglophones were in awe of their Colonial masters and suffered from cultural cringe. 

Those with middle class aspirations attempted to speak what they thought was "the King's
English" (later replaced by BBC Overseas Service Standard English). But they kept pretty much within their own racial boundaries, demonstrating the efficacy of the Divide-&-Rule Policy. A great deal more inter-ethnic socializing occurred in the post-Merdeka years, and this eventually produced an organic amalgam of vernacular idiosyncrasies - the glorious outcome being what is today universally known as Manglish.

In Singapore some folks speak Singlish - which, naturally, has a lot in common with Manglish, since both societies sprang from the same polyglot roots. However, the use of Singlish appears to be diminishing as the literacy level rises - and along with it, social aspirations. But I may be wrong. I wouldn't be at all surprised to receive an indignant email from Sylvia Toh Paik Choo of the Singlish Preservation Trust setting the record straight. In fact a Singlish rap album (Why You So Like Dat? produced by Siva Choy) made the charts in the early 1990s, proving that Singaporeans do possess a sense of humor.

Siva Choy raps in Singlish on his hit album Why You So Like Dat?

Manglish, in any case, seems to be thriving in Malaysia. Indeed there is a growing body of literature in Manglish (mostly generated by me) which has found its way into British Council language courses as teaching aids. Furthermore, studies such as this one have been commissioned by serious anthropological journals (none of which, alas, still exists) - which hardly augurs well for the continued growth and development of this embryonic industry. 

A real pity, as the terangslation - pardon, translation - of the World's Great Books into Proper Manglish (so that they will become accessible to everyone regardless of social background) will inevitably be retarded, along with the intellectual vibrancy of the nation. Manglish, after all, is the Great Equalizer. No one could possibly pull rank or put on airs when communicating in Manglish. You doan belif me ah? Seemply abzob all the impoting facks, and den go araun booshitting like nobody's beezniz until peeple oso ting you are a regular/decent/down-to-earth kind of fler.

A Word of Warning: If you happen to be a Mat Salleh (read White-Skinned Furriner), we advise you not to attempt speaking Manglish to every Malaysian you meet - unless specifically invited, or else you've lived here long enough to appreciate the indescribable delights of sambal belacan, durian and tempoyak (a piquant relish made from fermented durian). Otherwise you may inadvertently cause serious offence (Bladihel, you look down upon us ah? Yuting we cannot spikking your bladi langwidge one ah?) and find yourself arrested under the Infernal Sensitivities Act. Nonetheless, you may enjoy studying Manglish purely out of linguistic interest (so you can understand wat de local peeple are saying about you lah).

Credit must be given to two cunning linguists (and excellent musicians), Messrs Julian Mokhtar and Rafique Rashid, who sparked my interest in undertaking a formal study of Manglish phonetics and usage - which led to a standardization of spelling and the compilation of a Manglish glossary in 1988. The preliminary results of my research were published in ADOI! (Times Books International, 1989) and since then I have been commissioned to produce a growing body of literature in Manglish - including original poyems and terangslations of eggcerpts from Shakespeare, which appeared in the popular magazine, Manglish Review - whoops, I mean, Men's Review - in the mid-1990s.


A man walks into a department store and is greeted by a good-looking sales promoter.

SALESGIRL: Iffning, sir, how are you? Today got speshul awfer one. Leemeeted stork oni. Impotteds from the Germ Ernie. Got two-ear guarantee. 39.99 oni and summore you baiwanfriwan!

CUSTOMER: Aiseh, you look just like Hongkong star Anita Mui, don't get angry ah...

SALESGIRL: Ofcos aidontch-main, sir, I oso like Anita Mui wat, but whynotchew buy one and get one free, can gif to your gurfren?

CUSTOMER: Where I got gurfren, no taim lah. Eh, wat is your name ah, can tell ornot?

SALESGIRL: Aiyah, arfturds your gurfren jailus. Mister, better you buy now, tomollow awfer feenish oridi.

CUSTOMER: Aitoyu got no gurfren lah. How about you ah, got vacancy ornot? Eh, you feenish work we go for sahper, okay?

SALESGIRL: Aiyoh, aiskad oni lah, you so fast-fast one! Plis lah, sir, you hairp me, I hairp you lah, oni 39.99 wat, no nid to be so chipsket one lah!

CUSTOMER: Here's my card, plis call me wen you have freetaim, okay?

SALESGIRL: Betayudon gif card, sir. Managemen not allaud.

CUSTOMER: Bladihel, I gif to you, not to managemen wat!

SALESGIRL: Velly solly, sir, cannot like dat one, arfturds I lose my job den how? Solly ah.

CUSTOMER: Barsket, yuting you so bew-tifool ah?

SALESGIRL: Dis kind of peeple oso got. Cheh.


Coffeeshop scene featuring a gaggle of garrulous pensioners enjoying a few rounds of Guinness.

PENSIONER 1: Aitelyu de barger so-poorting, dah. Lastaim working for debladigarmen, 20-over years, boy. Fraskes oni, defler. Den olafasudden resign and join praivet sector... and wat happen 3 years later? Kena retrench, dah. Hauken dat old fart find anudder job. I arsk yu. Dailah.

PENSIONER 2: Huseso, dah, doan tokkok, man. His brudder-in-law told me defler kena lowtree man, first prize summore. But he wen araun telling wankain sob story, and now defler shiok oni. Tax exile in Labuan. Left his wife and married a Thai pondan – doan laugh ah, I hear damn seksi one, more beatifuller dan woman - and de barsket started his own ooi-dio production kompeni. I tink she got fren in porn beezniz. Many Thai people name Porn wat, heh heh.

PENSIONER 3: Eh, who you tokking about, dah? De fatty bom-bom Singh, izzit?

PENSIONER 2: Yala, Ajaib, yuting who?

PENSIONER 3: Alamak! Yesterday oni I saw de barger!

PENSIONER 1: Ya, ka? Where?

PENSIONER 3: Infrun Central Market lor.

PENSIONER 2: Wat defler doing there?

PENSIONER 3: Nothing much, lah, seemply stand outside KFC in white suit, look like Kernel Sanders lah, shaking hands with customers oni.

PENSIONER 1: Must be wang habis oridi lah, easy come easy go... marry golddigger pornstar summore. Aisehman, taim for anudder raun. Kamon, lah, I spen you flers. Orait!

PENSIONERS 1, 2 & 3: Bawtums up, dah.


Two old schoolchums bump into each other on the street.

PANG: Hoy, Dol! Long taim no see, man! So weh-yuattash now?

DOL: Aiyo, Pang, izzit? Steel wid debladigarmen, lah, watudu, got six mouse to feed, man. How about you, meelianair oridi ah'?

PANG: Ha ha, sofanochet, not so easy mah. But working on it lah. Running my own carpet cleaning kompeni. Eh, here's my card...

DOL: [READING CARD] Wah, Acksikutip Dairector... tera, man! Steel barechiller orwat?

PANG: Yala, where got taim to find wife, man. Make money first, den chewren. Dat's wat my old man orways tell me.

DOL: Ha ha ha, good advice.... eh, I oso got card. Here, keep in touch, okay, oldfren.

PANG: [READING CARD] No booshit, man! Head of Maintenance Department ah? Wah, not bad, not bad.

DOL: Gimme a call anytaim. Use my hamfone number, okay?

PANG: Okay, man, next week I caw you. We go for makan lah... eh, Dol, you like seafood ornot?

DOL: No problem, towkay! Everyting oso I makan [WINKS]. Minum osoken. Cheevas Reegull, yutingwat!

ackchwurly - originally "actually" – used in Manglish as a sentence starter, e.g., "to be perfectly honest" or "frankly spikking ah." 
ackshun (oni) - derived from "action" – meaning "to show off." 
aidontch-main - corruption of "I don't mind" - the extraneous syllable 'ch' indicates that the speaker is well aware of the subtleties of the English language and is making an effort to sound the 't' in "don't." 
aisehman - contraction of "I say, man!" A totally meaningless utterance, most commonly used by those with absolutely nothing to say. 
aiskad (lah) - confession of nervousness, as in "I'm scared, don't have the guts to do it."
aisodono - expression of ignorance, probably imported from India, originally: "I also don't know" (polite variation of "Damned if I know!").
arfturds – contraction of "afterwards" – often used to imply consequence or effect, e.g., "You don't hit me ah, arfturds I tell my farder!"; also used in place of "later" ("We go and see pickcher first, arfturds can have sahper.") 
atoyu (wat) - gentle expression of triumph: "What did I tell you?" 
baiwanfriwan - ploy used mainly by Chinese shop assistants to promote sales: "If you buy one, you'll get one free!"  
barfellow – originally "buffalo" – a reference to bulk, usually signifying a clumsy oaf or plodder. 
barger – corruption of "bugger" – literally, pain-in-the-butt or nuisance.

barsket - uncouth interjection; term of derision, often preceded by the prefix "bladi." Probably a mangled compound of "blasted," "bastard" and "bugger. An all-purpose expression of acute annoyance, as in "Goddamn" or "Blast it!" 
betayudon - mild warning, as in "You'd better not do that." 
bladihel - exclamation conveying intense irritation; corruption of "bloody hell!" 
boh-sia – originally a Hokkien expression meaning "mute" but now loosely applied to teenage girls who hang out with, or put out for, sugar-daddies; frequently misheard as "Bosnia," which arouses instant embarrassment, confusion, moral outrage or sympathy, not necessarily leading to charitable acts. 
bollsdar - rude retort favored by Malaysian Indians, especially Sikhs; essentially a scrotal reference devolved from "balderdash" or "bollocks." (The deliberate slurring of the commonly heard vernacular suffix 'lah' imparts a more emphatic measure of vulgarity. 
cari makan – popular Malay idiom, literally "looking for food" or "to eke out a living" – but usually employed as a rationale for selfish and myopic behavior. 
cheh – expression of total disgust, usually indicating that the user finds the entire subject vile, filthy, contemptible and unworthy of further discussion.

chipsket - contraction of "cheapskate," somebody not known to be generous; also used to describe anything low-cost. 
dai-lah - term of commiseration, usually mock, used in situations where an element of anxiety is present, e.g.,"Oh dear, now you've blown 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 scapegoat for all of life's disappointments, delays, denials, and prohibitions. 
defler - contraction of "that fellow." 
(doan) 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). 
fatty bom-bom – a juvenile reference to bulk; synonymous with "fatso" – a jocular and universally understood description of obesity. 
filim – mispronunciation of "film" – usually refers to movies, whether analog or digital.

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 case is frustrating; could also imply sexual deprivation. 
gifchan (lah) - half-serious plea, as in "Give us a chance, will you?" Could also mean: "Please do us a favor." 
gurfren - slurring of "girlfriend." 
hauken - another elastic expression applicable in almost any situation, e.g., "That's not right!" or "Impossible!" or "You don't say!" 
ho-laif - adverb, meaning "perpetually" (contraction of "whole life"). 
huseso - "Says who?" or "Who says so?" (alternatively, hused).  
hutoyu - mild challenge, as in "Who told you?" 
izzit - expression of mild unbelief: "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?" 
kennonot - request or enquiry, contraction of "Can you or can you not?"; also used as "May I?" or "Will you?" or "Is it possible?" 
kenoso - affirmative, "can also"; in other words, "It's quite all right with me" (see osoken). 
kopi money - unofficial commission; bribe. 
lastaim - denotes the past ("last time"), though not necessarily in any specific sense: e.g., "Las-taim we orways see filim but nowadays stay home and watch dividi oni." 
latok - corruption of "datuk"; (i) "grandfather" in Malay; (ii) a tutelary spirit residing in trees and sacred spots; or (iii) an honorific bestowed on individuals deemed worthy (e.g., Malaysia's best-loved cartoonist Lat, who's now a "Latok"). Latokship is a much sought-after status symbol (for which some are willing to pay handsomely). 
mais-wan - possessive pronoun, meaning "it belongs to me" or "it's mine." Etymologically part of a family including yos-wan ("yours one") and dias-wan ("their's one"). 
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. 
olafasudden - melodramatic variation on "all of a sudden." 
oridi - contraction of "already." 
osoken - affirmative, interchangeable with kenoso ("also can"); in other words, "Anything goes!" or "Fine by me!" 
ow-tah (punya) - temi of disparagement, meaning "utterly substandard." 
owk-steshen - from "outstation" - a relic of Colonial days when officials were often absent from their posts doing field work; in other words, "out of town" or "abroad." 
podah - extremely dismissive term derived from street Tamil, as in "Go to hell!" or "Get stuffed!" or "Fuck off!" 
rigadingwat - interrogative used exclusively by telephonists and secretaries when you demand to speak to their bosses: "What is it regarding?" 
sahper - "supper," usually a major pig-out after a nocturnal shopping spree or pub-crawl. 
seehau - mangling of "let's wait and see how it turns out." 
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!" 
sorait - universal apology or palliative ("It's all right.") 
tera (oni) - noun describing someone who inspires awe, "a real terror." Often has a positive connotation, as in "defer wankain tera ladykiller lah!" 
tan-slee - corruption of "Tan Sri" - the equivalent of a knighthood. 
tingwat - highly adaptable expression stemming from "What do you think?" May be used as a challenge ("Who cares a hoot 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. 
wankain -(wan) - adjective denoting uniqueness, oddness, weirdness, extraordinariness: contraction of "one of a kind" (with "one" repeated for rhythmic symmetry). Sometimes rendered as wankain-oni (to emphasize the uniqueness). 
watudu - rhetorical question: "But what can we do?" An excellent excuse for apathy. 
weh-yuattash - polite question when introduced to a stranger: "Where are you attached to?" (in other words, "What do you do for a living?") 
wochaut - from "watch out" - an ominous threat favored by gangsters and polticians. 
yala - non-committal agreement, liberally used when confronted with a bore. A string 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're really too much!" 
yugifmisi - imperative indicating intense curiosity, as in: "Let me have a look!" 
yusobadwan - expression of mild reproach: "Hey, that's not very nice!"

[The Manglish Glossary originally appeared in ADOI! (Times Books International, 1989) which sold 13,000 copies and is currently accessible online. This version has been slightly expanded.]

How Malaysians speaks Manglish in Malaysia!

Linguist: It’s okay to speak Manglish

Tuesday November 27, 2012

Linguist: It's okay to speak Manglish


National pride: One country is proud not only of its runners, like Usain Bolt, but also its language – which is called Standard Jamaican English. Do we respect Malaysian English? National pride: One country is proud not only of its runners, like Usain Bolt, but also its language – which is called Standard Jamaican English. Do we respect Malaysian English?

Do we feel that Malaysian English is 'sub-standard'? It takes a Mat Salleh linguist to tell us why it's OK to speak (but not write) this way!
I was interested in a recent contribution to the Mind Our English (MOE) section by Peggy Tan entitled Malaysian Oddities, in which she listed certain words and phrases under "Local use" or "Wrong" (i.e. Malaysian English) and a corresponding list entitled "Standard English" or "Right", the implication being that Malaysian English is sub-standard, or, in some way, non-standard. Thus, the term Standard Malaysian English would be considered an anomaly.
Yet, in countries as different as India and Jamaica, the respective terms Standard Indian English and Standard Jamaican English are fully recognized. Malaysia is also home to indigenized versions of English, but no doubt Peggy Tan and many other Malaysians would not consider it to be up to "standard".
What is Standard English anyway? Queen's English? Hardly! Almost nobody, other than the Queen herself, speaks like the Queen, if one is referring to accent, that is (and over the past 60 years, even the monarch's accent has become less "cut glass" and more "common", as the MOE article More Democratic English on Nov 20 pointed out).
Standard British English?
The vast number of varieties of English, even among native speakers, is legendary. I am from Scotland, where, as everyone knows, the best English is spoken, notwithstanding Henry Higgins' defamatory quip in My Fair Lady: Oh, Why can't the English learn to set,
A good example to people whose English is painful to your ears?
The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears.
There even are places where English completely disappears.
In America, they haven't used it for years!
Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?
I am sometimes seriously challenged when seeking to communicate with my fellow Britons in other regions of the UK. Please don't think of British English as being of one variety; there are many. Which is "standard"?
The main differences here are in pronunciation; accent rather than vocabulary, but, even at this level, differences are great. The differences are greater when we consider the varieties of mother-tongue English throughout the world.
I remember a bizarre experience when I lived in Vienna. I was in the company of a Texan, whom I had immense difficulty to understand. He told me that my accent was "too British" for him.
We then abandoned the mother tongue and spent the rest of the evening communicating in Austrian German, which, fortunately, we both knew well!
Back to Peggy's lists of non-standard Malaysian English terms. Perhaps the list should be entitled Not Fully Recognized Internationally.
In Malaysia, when we go "marketing" (one of the terms which Peggy notes to be Wrong), it means we go to the pasar malam to buy uncooked food, often to last the family several days.
Yet in the world of business, marketing means something different and Malaysians know the difference. A native speaker would probably work it out too, so there's no big issue.
The success of the character Phua Chu Kang, played by Gurmit Singh, represents a growing pride in locally spoken versions of English. Gurmit is often sought after for corporate events. The success of the character Phua Chu Kang, played by Gurmit Singh, represents a growing pride in locally spoken versions of English. Gurmit is often sought after for corporate events.
Sociolinguistics has three terms: Acrolect (high language), Mesolect (middle language) and Basilect (low language).
These terms are used greatly by linguists studying the linguistic kaleidoscope of the Caribbean, with its standard and creole (rojak) versions of English (and also French, Spanish and Dutch).
While some linguists see the Standard-Creole spectrum as a continuum, others like Wardhaugh and Devonish (both writing in 1986) see each level of language as having its particular function.
Let's look at Malaysian English. At one end, there is Acrolect and at the other Basilect, with Mesolect somewhere in between. This might be seen as a continuum from "slightly Malaysian" to "very Malaysian".
I prefer to see each as distinct, with its respective role. That is, Acrolect, Mesolect and Basilect forms of Malaysian English are functionally separate and distinct.
Fake American accents
How do we recognize Acrolect? This variety is internationally comprehensible, the main distinguishing feature being (a more native form of) pronunciation.
How pathetic it is to hear Malaysians faking an accent (in the case of radio DJs, it is almost invariably a phony caricature of an American accent, with listeners frequently being addressed as "you guys out there" or even "y'all") because they erroneously believe that is more acceptable than sounding "local".
But there's nothing "wrong" at all when Acrolect speakers sound Malaysian; they can express themselves articulately with proper grammar and can even confidently present a paper at an international conference, despite not having an American accent.
In addition, they walk on the five-foot-way because that means something different from pavement or sidewalk.
They code-switch to pay at the pondok, play football on the padang and tah pau from the stalls, but they also know when they should say kiosk, playing field and take-away.
They probably also do the weekly marketing, since they do it at the market rather than a shop. Many Acrolect speakers have English as their primary means of communication.
Mesolect speakers use a form of English which displays particular features. There is some grammatical reduction, which is occasioned more by mother-tongue influence than by lack of awareness.
Complexities of tense are dispensed with, thus He arrive(d) already. Redundancy of prepositions is rife, thus I want to request for a replacement; Can you repeat again? Certain words are used differently from native speaker usage, thus Can I follow you home?; I'll send you to the hotel; Please pass up your homework.
Mesolect is freely used by people in their offices, at meetings, on the phone, but should not be used in formal documents in business presentations or in international correspondence.
And then we come to Basilect, which is REAL Malaysian English! On my first visit to Malaysia, I enquired at an office whether a course of action could be followed.
Several people in the office enthusiastically chorused "Can-Can! Can-Can!" For a moment, I had visions of the Moulin Rouge and high-flying skirts! It took me a moment to realize that this was an emphatic assertion of possibility!
During the Kuala Lumpur International Marathon a few years ago, a runner suddenly streaked past me and then overtook his friend, who was running directly in front of me. The friend exclaimed, "Aiyaaa, you one-kind-one! What for you run so fast-fast one? Only want to cut me, is it?"
My all-time prize-winner Basilect example is one that I always share with my participants when I conduct our Speak Like a Professional training. It goes like this:
I was once seeking to purchase shoes in a shop in Petaling Jaya. I am a vegetarian out of compassion, so prefer not to wear leather, but since plastic shoes don't last long, I do buy leather shoes, always asking first what kind of leather it is. I had selected two potential purchases and asked of what they were made.
The sales lady indicated the cheap pair: "This one cow" and the expensive pair: "This one deer". Sometimes compassion is selective; emotionally I can handle wearing a piece of bovine skin better than deer. So I told the sales lady that I couldn't wear the deer but could wear the cow. Evidently, she did not discern much integrity in my reasoning and asked: "Deer cannot-ah? How come cow can?"
Now that is REAL Malaysian English! Don't tell me that it is bad English! That lady communicated in a way that left me speechless with admiration! "HOW COME COW CAN?" – the alliteration and the economy of the utterance ... so Malaysian and so communicative!
Intimate English
Basilect is wonderful in its colour and precision. But it should be used only in the most informal of oral situations and never with an uninitiated foreigner!
To see Malaysian English in terms of good or bad, right or wrong is to miss the realities of expediency and the extensive process of assimilation and adaptation.
In a society where there is little that might be termed indigenous, Malaysian English, though not home-sown, is certainly home-cultivated, indigenized, though not indigenous.
Thus, any evaluative statement about Malaysian English must be guarded from being over-simplistic. The good-bad, right-wrong, standard-deviant paradigm should give way to the appropriate-inappropriate spectrum.
Sometimes a term is used for Malaysian English, as if it were a definable and recognized term – Manglish, a ghastly word that makes me, as a Linguist, cringe.
If you seek this word in Wikipedia, you will read that Manglish is a creole. It is not. The term pidgin or pidginized version may be applied to Basilect Malaysian English, but not creole.
A pidgin and a creole share certain characteristics, since the former is generally the forerunner of the latter; but a creole is a stable variety which may be claimed as the/a mother tongue of a community, as is the case in Haiti (creole of French), Guyana and Jamaica (creole of English), parts of the Austronesian archipelago (creole of Malay), Malacca and Goa (creole of Portuguese).
Basilect is the only form of Malaysian English which may be termed pidgin due to the idiosyncratic usage of English words and the simplification and reduction of grammar, so that the syntax of Basilect has more in common with Cantonese, Hokkien or Malay than with native-speaker English.
Frequently thrown in are lexical items from the contributing local languages, as in:
"You know ah, she very kay poh one. Always look-look in other people house. No wonder she got fall inside longkang!"
"No lah! Don't talk bad lah! Where got kay poh? She always wish so nicely." (as overheard near Kajang, Selangor).
Sometimes, as a mark of intimacy or common identity, Acrolect speakers choose to lapse into Basilect as it is more colourful and meaningful to say that someone is sombong rather than proud, kay poh rather than nosey, pandai rather than smart! And, of course, even Acrolect speakers fall into the longkang rather than the drain!
None of this, however, establishes Basilect as a creole. While Basilect has come into being through a process of indigenization or localization it has not reached the point of nativization, which would render it a creole. That is, Malaysian children are reared principally with a mother tongue or with Acrolect/Mesolect English. Basilect exposure is secondary.
I am frequently approached by parents anxious that their children should learn "correct" English, doubtful that the present school system can deliver. They want their children to be competitive as globalisation becomes less of an option and more of a reality.
To effect this, the methodological emphasis should not be on somehow stamping out (bad/wrong) Malaysian English, but recognizing the place and the usefulness of Basilect and Mesolect, while extending the repertoire to include Acrolect, a standard variety which is internationally accepted and still Malaysian.
Malaysian English should not be seen as one single entity, intrinsically sub-standard, as opposed to some vaguely defined and barely attainable Standard English.
Dr Alistair King is an Applied Linguist and Corporate Training Consultant with clients throughout the region, the Middle East and Southern Africa. He would value feedback to: or

PJ's popular Section 17 Cendol stall

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Those were the days....the good ol' Malaysia

Wong Peng Soon was our favourite badminton player,       
Ghani Minat was our favourite soccer hero, and
Rose Chan was our favourite entertainer.
You are not cool if you do not have a long side burn, greasy hair (held together by Brylcream) with a floppy "bun" infront.  Then you are either an Elvis fan or a Cliff (Richard) fan.  You cannot be neutral.
Films by P Ramlee always enjoyed by all Malaysians.  How can we forget classics like Do-Re-Mi and Bujang Lapok, and seeing P Ramlee dueting with Saloma on "Gelora", aaaaah ... that was something else.
Because we reared Siamese fighting fishes, the seller was our idol.
Driving license renewal was by pasting an additional slip at the back of a small red booklet
Susu lembu was house delivered by our big friendly and strong Bahiii ............. on his bicycle in a stainless steel container. The container cap served as a funnel.
Kacang puteh man came a-peddling, walking and balancing on his head 6 compartments of different type of murukus ...and we barter our old exercise books for a paper cone of kacang putih.
We can enjoy monthly credit "facilities" from our friendly neighbourhood sundry shop by using the little "555" book.  This was the "credit card" of the day.
F&N orange was served in wooden crates and displayed on the table in the homes during Chinese New Year.
M&M 's was called Treets ..
Eating chicken was a treat that happened only once on Chinese New Year and once on "Chap Goh Meh", Deepavali, Christmas or Hari Raya.
We always carried in our pocket a packet of fire crackers during the Chinese New Year.
We always carry a one ringgit note at night in case we are stopped by a mata-mata (policeman) for not having tail lights on our bicycles.
One noodle 'chow kway teow' cost 30 sen and we bring our own egg.
One 'roti canai' cost 15 sen and one banana for 5 sen.
We bought bangkali bread from the Indian roti man who paddled his bicycle around the neighbourhood with the familiar ringing sound from his bicycle.
Sometimes we bought cold storage bread wrapped in wax paper. Spread the bread with butter and kaya wrap with the wax paper and take to school.
Crop crew cut by the travelling Indian or Hockchew barber; 30 sen a haircut, all the way to the top. Reason?.. easy to dry when curi swimming.
During weekends, went swimming in the river, no swimming trunks, only birthday suits.  No one laugh at you whether your "kuku bird" is small, crooked, etc.
On Sunday morning, listened to Kee Huat Radio's "Fantastic Facts and Fancies", and Saturday, "Top of the Pops", both hosted by DJ Patrick Teoh who always ended his show with, "Here's wishing you blue skies."
Saturday morning, go for cheap matinee shows at the Cathay Cinema, usually cowboy shows or Greek mythology like "Jason and the Golden Fleece".
The Cathay Cinema at Jalan Bukit Bintang [opposite the Federal Hotel].  First opened in 1959 with the film, "Campbell's Kingdom".
Father gave 70 sen for cheap matinee shows which normally started at 10.30 am on Saturdays and Sundays - 50 sen for the ticket and 20 sen for return bus fare, makan not included.  Nobody paid 1 ringgit for the 'Reserved' seat.
Believe it or not, we had double-decker buses owned by the Toong Foong Omnibus Company.  Whenever we boarded the bus, we would run to the upper deck to get a view of the journey.
The familiar double-decker Toong Foong bus
5 sen for kacang putih and 10 sen for ice "ang tau".  Sometimes, ice ball only 5 sen "pau ang tau" and half red sugar, and the other half black sugar or sarsi.
Never, never, never talked or mixed with girls until Form 5.  Learned the Waltz, Cha Cha, Rhumba, Foxtrot and Offbeat Cha Cha from a classmate's sister.
First time dancing with a girl, nearly froze and the heart went "botobom, botobom ..."
Standard cure for headache, take Aspro.  We took a lot of sweet stuff like candy floss, fizzy drinks, shaved ice with syrups .... and diabetes was rare.  Salt added to Pepsi or Coke was a remedy for fever.  Tonic water always taken at the first hint of Malaria.
First time used a modern toilet, I squatted on it as I was used to using the "bucket system" toilet.  Our children will not know the danger of visiting the outdoor toilet at night, nor jumping in fright when the man collect the bucket while you are doing your business.
 Toilet paper is torn up newspaper on a hook which you have to crumple first before applying.  White toilet paper was an unknown luxury until I left home.
With mere 5 pebbles (stones), we could turn it into an endless game.  With a ball (tennis ball best), we boys would run like crazy for hours.
We caught guppies in drains/canals and when it rained, we swam there.
We ate salty, very sweet and oily food, candies, bread and real butter, and drank condensed milk in coffee/tea, iced kacang, but we weren't overweight because we ran, cycled or climbed trees all day.  We fell from the trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth, and still we continued the stunts.
 We never had birthday parties until we were 21.
We never heard of "bumiputra" and neither "1Malaysia", because we were already one Malaysian.
When parents found out we were caned in school, it's certain we would get another round at home.  Parents always sided with the teachers.
We fly kites with string coated with pounded glass powder and horse glue, and we cut our hand on the string.  Happiness is winning a kite with a local samseng.  I forgot, we also have to make our own kites to suit our "fighting styles".
We are the last generation to know how to use logarithm tables and slide rulers.
We had telephones which were really, really heavy weights.
And I believe, this generation produces the best parents because we remember the hard times.

No one can go back and change a bad beginning;
But anyone can start now and create a successful ending.