12 May 2009

Minding Your Choice of Words

A couple of days ago at the gym, a friend came to me and excitedly said that he'd be flying to KL for the first time for a short holiday.

Being a good Malaysian citizen, I spent some time telling him places in KL that must be included in his itinerary, on how to get about around town and the local cuisine which is a must try.

Apparently, his wife had done some info-finding herself - location of Vincci stores.

To save him from experiencing public embarrasment, I told him that he should be careful using two words in Malaysia. I explained that these words which are completely harmless in Indonesia, might not be the case in Malaysia.

Situation 1

You ask for direction on how to get to Bukit Bintang from a local and you might get the answer below,

"Encik naik monorail dan berhenti di stesyen Bukit Bintang".

And you reply,

"Ohhh!! Gampang!! Terima kasih."

A big mistake.

You see, although the word gampang in Bahasa Malaysia has the same meaning as in Bahasa Indonesia, it is however more commonly used as a cursory word to describe anak haram.

So, don't be surprised if in the situation above you get negative remarks from the person who had just helped you find your way to Bukit Bintang. Afterall, you had just thanked that person and called him/her a anak haram.

Please use the words senang or mudah instead of gampang.

Situation 2

In your attempt to be friendly with the hotel's pretty receptionist, you enthusiastically tell her about your journey from Ikea in Mutiara Damansara to KL city centre in a taxi and got caught in the middle of the maddening rush hour traffic.

" Capek saya mbak. Macetnya parah banget. Kelamaan duduk di dalam taksi. Pegel pantat saya."

Even bigger mistake.

Now, if you're a cowok, the pretty receptionist, who earlier might have been attracted to you, would immediately strike you off as a pervert.

In peninsula Malaysia, the word pantat is widely used to refer to Miss V or anus.

Instead of pantat, it is advisable to use the word punggung.

A mental note to my Indonesian friends - while in Malaysia, your punggung is not where you think it is.

So, when you stop by for a massage in one of the reflexology centres along Jalan Bukit Bintang, if you ask the therapist to pijat your punggung, you are actually asking the therapist to pijat your pantat. Instead, ask them to pijat your belakang.

This reminds me of a story told by my former boss about a Malaysian male tourist in Jakarta who was trying the creambath for the first time.

The poor guy was dumbfounded (and I suspect he was excited too) when he was asked by the salon lady,

"Pak, mau di pijat punggungnya gak?"

Luckily the lady quickly cleared the confusion. Otherwise, it would be weird to find a Malaysian man on all fours in a salon chair.


MBI said...

As they say regarding British and American English, we are separated by a common language.

L said...

great blog, dude.
been read it a few times.

it helps me improve my english skills. a lot.
thanks ya

gadhogadho said...

MBI - very true indeed.

L - thanks for droppin by. actually grammar gue juga ngaco banget. BTW nice plaid shirt!!