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[personal profile] darthfar
 This is largely for the benefit of the friend I'm trying to teach Malay. ;) These notes basically cover what we did yesterday, and what we'll be doing in the next lesson.

A note concerning pronunciation:  On the whole, the Malay language has only one sound for each consonant and vowel, with the exception of E (so it's actually much, much easier than English). However, when encountering a word that ends with the letter A, the "hard A sound" rule may be relaxed so that the final A is pronounced with an "er" sound, which sounds far more natural than a hard "ah!". The government once tried to standardise pronunciation by introducing BAHASA  BAKU (which is equivalent to Received Pronunciation in English, and which rigidly conforms to Malay pronunciation rules. BAHASA = language; BAKU = main/standard), but it never caught on. Those of us in school at the time used to jokingly refer to it as BAHASA  BEKU (frozen language)!


The best way of scoring a point with people when you're travelling abroad is to greet them in their own language (but you don't need me to tell you that). While the younger generation here will happily greet you with a "hi!" or a "hello", sometimes it's best to actually bid people (especially the older generation) a good day. However, while in English you would wish people a "good" day/morning/etc, the traditional Malay greeting always starts with SELAMAT, which literally means "safe". 

SELAMAT PAGI = good morning 
SELAMAT TENGAHARI = good midday/noon (TENGAH = mid[dle], HARI = day)
SELAMAT PETANG = good afternoon/evening
SELAMAT MALAM = good night

In more formal situations however, such as when addressing a crowd or audience, you may sometimes want to wish them well without having to specify the time of day. In such situations, you would greet them with SELAMAT SEJAHTERA (SEJAHTERA = peace/tranquility/prosperity).


When meeting somebody for the first time, you'd obviously want to say hello. The Malay way of asking how a person is is:

APA KHABAR? = what news?

to which the person would customarily reply,

KHABAR BAIK = good news (literally, news good)

... unless of course they were in a horrible mood, or take it as an open invitation to spill forth their health problems and grievances. (In which case you're obviously screwed).

But of course you're not going to stop there; that would be rude. You could always return the question with a simple,

DAN ANDA? = and you?


ANDA BAGAIMANA? = what about you? (literally, "you how?". BAGAIMANA is made up of two words: BAGAI = like/in the same degree [like, as in, "like an elephant charging through the trees", not "I like this"] and MANA = where)

Remember that in our previous lesson I said that ANDA is the polite form for "you" and should be used when you don't know the person - or don't know them well - or simply want to be extra polite. There are five different words in the official Malay language  for "you" that can be used interchangeably, although they are in varying degrees of politeness. If the person you're addressing is significantly older, it's only polite to bypass the word "you" entirely, and use the title appropriate to them (see below). Eg: DAN MAKCIK? = and (you) auntie?

[The other words for "you" are: KAMU, ENGKAU, KAU (a contraction of ENGKAU) and AWAK. Of the four, KAU is the one most commonly used among friends or equals.]


To score additional points (especially with the older folk!), you might also wish to address them by rank/title. While it is customary in English to address a person as "Mr/Mrs/Miss", you would want to go with something more familiar and personal in Malay:

DATUK / NENEK = grandfather/grandmother (if they're old enough to look like grandparents!)
PAKCIK /  MAKCIK = uncle/auntie (if they're significantly older than you are. The PAK in PAKCIK comes from the word BAPA, which means "father"; the MAK in MAKCIK comes from EMAK, meaning "mother")
ENCIK / CIK = Mr/Miss
KAK (shortened from KAKAK) = older sister (usually for addressing women a little older than you are)
BANG (shortened from ABANG) = older brother. I'd avoid using this, since married women also address their husbands this way!
ADIK (can be shortened to DIK or DEK) = young one (literally, younger sibling. Obviously to be used only when addressing someone younger)

[Note that ADIK may refer to a younger person of either gender. This is because the Malay language has no grammatical gender. More on this later.]

It may seem strange to call a person who is obviously not related to you "uncle" or "auntie", but Asian languages are all about giving respect where respect is due, and that means observing a person's rank in society. So even though they may not be family, they're still older than you, and you shouldn't try to speak to them as if they're on the same level as yourself. (Certainly, no well-brought up child would dare to use "you" when speaking to elders, and neither should you! ... Or should I say, "you, O Venerable Fossil Aunt Tory!").
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