If a Malaysian wanted to learn English words, the reverse process could work. Hai, apa nama 'kucing' dalam Bahasa Inggeris? Cat. Bagaimana dengan 'langit'? Sky. 'Durian'? Obviously.
|Picture of Durian Gray|
Okay. Pretend you're married, right? And your spouse has a sister. And your spouse's sister is married. That man -- the husband of the sister of your spouse -- what do you call him? Besides his name, I mean. I used to enjoy debating this. I'd always say, that's my brother-in-law. Others would argue, no, it's your sister-in-law's husband. (And without fail somebody would always be thoughtful enough to point out, "who even cares?")
Here's where we could borrow a word from the Malay lexicon: biras. It means -- well, it means the relation that I described just now. How have English speakers managed so long without something like it?
Here's another. My Malay teacher recently asked me what the English word for ngilu is. Ngilu, I'm told, is the sensation you get when you bite into a lime, or hear a sharp knife scraping bamboo. Neither of those are common experiences for me, but I'm guessing it's similar to biting into a Popsicle, or more famously, listening to this:
|Can you feel the ngilu right now?|
There are others. In particular, I have noticed an abundance of Malay words related to body posture and gesturing. Perhaps I will list some another time. For now, you can practice using these two useful Malay words at home.
Or better yet, just keep a healthy distance from Popsicles and chalkboards.