The digital reincarnation of a national bestseller by KIT LEEE (now known as ANTARES)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Kamon-lah, Tok Manglish OK?

Aitelyu ah, nemmain wat deblardigarmen say, mose Malaysians tok Manglish. Bekoswai? Bekos we all shai oni to to spik prawper English - arfturds peeple ting we trying to ackshun oni. But Manglish is best-lah when you want to seemply tokkok like fren-fren, lah. Donkair you Malay or Chinese or Indian or everyting miksup. At the mamak stall, in the awfis, sitting araun in the kopi-shop, we Malaysians orways tok like dis wankain oni - got kick wat!

You want to tokkok osoken, no problem, we gifchan you forrin flers, lah. Seemply by-heart the following list of pawpular Manglish words and phrases - and very soon oridi you can go araun blarfing like tera oni.


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?"

 - 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., "Lastaim we orways see filim but nowdays 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 was born of an evening of intoxicated jollity spent with two superb musicians and cunning linguists named Rafique Rashid and Julian Mokhtar, who both offered helpful suggestions, as did an expat English teacher friend, Jeanne M.C. Donven.


J.T. said...

This is a priceless post. I just love it!

If you don't mind, I am going to pass this on to some of my family and friends via email.

Thanks for a good laugh. :D

zewt said...

wicked stuff... very wicked stuf...!!

gnute said...

*sides splitting*

Starmandala said...

Yo, JT, since when has any blogger minded more hits on his or her blog? :-) Hello Zewt - first time I've seen a comment from you, cheers! Gnute... is that you, Lydia? Er... cute moniker! :-)

gnute said...

Hello, Antares! Yes, it's me. I'm so glad that my workplace has yet to firewall your blog. *happily surfs*

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

gawwddd...what a piece of gem. i'm hooked to ADOI!

*dai-lah is a real classic.