Many Malaysian can converse in English- however, as visitors you may find it perplexing that there seems to be a number of vocabulary used that is not found in the English language.
As Malaysians, we use local jargon or slangs – which is combined from the different cultural and diversity within Malaysia.
Astro August cover published the interesting collection of Malaysian jargons used- which the different races use to converse with each other:
For the puzzled traveller, let me translate some phrases based on my understanding of them The blank ones….I am not sure. Appreciate if anyone can help to correct me…
|ABC is ‘air batu campur’, a favourite local dish.
Not to be confused with ABC (American Born Chinese) used in the West.
|It’s a pain|
A nerdy guy- usually it conjures up a picture of a guy with thick black rimmed glasses and hair combed in an old fashion manner.
|Ah Moi||Used to address a Chinese girl|
|Aiyoyo||A surprised expression- can be positive or negative|
|Brudder||To address another guy in a friendly manner|
When packing for a drink, we asked for “bungkus” means we want it packed.
We also said a business ‘bungkus’, means it had gone bankrupt.
Refers to “pretty” or “beautiful”. Eg, “that girl is chun” means that girl is beautiful.
Some people also when you ask them to do something, they really, “chun” that means “okay” or “cool”.
|Curi ayam||Literal meaning, “stealing chicken”It is a proverb used to refer to “being lazy”She always “curi ayam” means she always find ways to be lazy|
|Goreng||Goreng is frying.In local jargon, we say ‘goreng’ means we just played guess or make up the answers or reasons. Example, ‘the previous examination was very hard. Most of the questions I could not answer, I just ‘goreng’ the answers”|
|Gostan||Go backwardsUsually when driving, we ‘gostan’ means move backwards. When during discussion, we gonstan means ‘move back’|
|Fuyoh||Amazing, or impressive|
|Kacang putih||It is actually food- usually sold in the night markets or roadside stalls. Various kinds of fried stuff or peanuts.But in the Malaysian jargon it means “easy”.Example, “this is kacang putih” means “this task is easy” or small matter, just as easy as eating the kacang putih itself|
|Kamek||Squashed- like in a car or an aluminium tin being squashed|
|Kan cheong||Nervous or anxious“I am very kan Cheong” means “I am feeling very nervous”|
|Kepala pusing||Head spinning.It may be used when the person is taken round and round or he find the task so confusing that his head literally spins or ‘kepala pusing’.|
|Kopi-O-Lesen||Means the licence is not gotten by virtue of actually passing the exams but due to paying bribes (it is not common but…..)|
|Makan angin||Literal translation “eat wind” but it is referring to going for holidays|
|Macha||Think of Bruce Lee when getting ready to fight would sell “macha”|
|Mamak||We usually say “mamak food” is referring to food in Indian Muslim restaurant like fried mee, rojak.|
|Mat salleh||Referring to Caucasian. In Thailand the term ‘farang’ is used. It’s the same meaning.|
|Otak tak centre||Mind not centered or focused.Means not thinking properly or coordinated or crazy. But it is used usually as a joke|
|Outstation||Means the person is in another state|
|Pasar malam||Night market|
|Pergi Sabah bah||Let’s go Sabah. “bah” is a term used to soften the sentence.|
|Rilek||Keep calm and cool.|
|Rojak||Rojak is a kind of food or fruits where you mix everything together and put a sauce on it (we have the Indian rojak or fruits rojak). In local jargon, it means it is all mixed up together (usually denotes mixed up and messy).|
|Sama sama||Malay word, means “same here” or “go together”.|
|Sap sap sui||Cantonese word meaning “very easy”. Example, “climbing up that hill was sap sap sui for me” or “you are so smart, this should be sap sap sui for you lah”|
|Setengah masak||Half cooked or half baked.In local jargon it means something like the person is not fully trained or skilled.Example, “the college produce all the students that is ‘setengah masak’- when they come out they do not seems to understand anything”|
|Siow ah!||Hokkien word to say “are you crazy?”For example, when an unreasonable request is made to a person, the person looked shocked and say “siow ah!”|
|Solid||Means solid, strong.|
|Syok||Very good feeling|
|Tak laku||Malay phrase- means no one wants it.Example, “you punya barang tak laku”|
|Thamby||Referring to an Indian guy.|
|Tiga suku||Means three quarter|