Saturday, January 19, 2008

An Interesting Story about Kelatanese Dialect

The Malays in Malaysia speak different dialects although all use standard Malay at official functions.

Penang, the Malays use 'hang' to mean 'you' and not 'awak', 'engkau' or 'kamu' when speaking in their dialect. Instead of 'dahaga', they will say 'lapar air' (hungry for water) when 'thirsty' is intended. The word 'air' (water) is pronounced as 'ayak' too.

As for Kelantanese dialect of Malay, 'makan' (eat) is rendered 'ma kay' verbally whereas the word is pronounced as 'makang' by the Malays in Terengganu, another state in
Malaysia. If a road is named 'Jalan Fatimah', the Malays in Terengganu will say 'Jalang Fatimah' which has a bad connotation in standard Malay because 'jalang' means 'prostitute'.

There is a famous story about the Malay dialect in Kelantan which I would like to share with you. It goes like this.

A man from another state in
Malaysia wanted to take a taxi to his hotel. The following was the conversation between the man and a taxi driver:

Man: Bilakah teksi ini akan berjalan?

(When will the taxi start to move?)

Taxi man: Selalu. [‘Selalu’ means ‘always’ in standard Malay.]

Man: Saya tahulah teksi ini selalu bergerak tetapi saya nak tahu masa teksi ini boleh bergerak. [I know that the taxi always moves but I want to know when it is going to move.]

Taxi man: Selalu.

The man got angry and went off.

Actually, 'selalu' in the Kelantanese dialect means 'now'. In fact the taxi man was telling the man that his taxi would move then but he failed to get across the message to the man. The above misunderstanding would not have occurred at all had the taxi man used standard Malay to communicate with the man.

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