11 Manglish Words

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When a person says, ‘I like your English slang,’ does this person actually mean ‘accent’, but they got the words ‘slang’ and ‘accent’ confused? 

What is slang and is it the same as an accent? Let’s go deeper, shall we?

An accent is a way of pronouncing words.

Here are some examples of how the word is used. 

  1. The politician spoke fluent English with a Malaysian accent. (He speaks with Malaysian pronunciation.)
  2. The singer Adele speaks with a cockney accent. (Cockney is an accent and a dialect associated with working-class Londoners.)

 

Slang, on the other hand, refers to informal words and phrases used in a particular context or group of people.

For example, teenagers understand the slang word ‘flex’ to mean ‘show off’, whilst amongst millennials, the slang term ‘cancel culture’ means ‘online shaming’. Notice how this is not about pronunciation (accent).

What about the meaning of ‘Standard English’?

Standard English is the idealised form of language used and taught in schools. It has a fixed set of spelling and grammar rules. It is also considered the most correct and acceptable way of speaking and writing in many social situations, including in public speaking, broadcasting, academic and formal writing. 

Malaysian English is a form of Standard English. It is almost similar to British English in terms of spelling, grammar, sentence structure and word stress rules. It is an accepted form of the language in this country.

Malaysian English should not be confused with the word Manglish. 

I hope you’re not blur yet!

Oops, I’ve just used the word ‘blur’ in a non-standard way! What I mean is, I hope you’re not confused yet!

The word ‘blur’ in this context means ‘confused’. This is not Standard English, nor is it Malaysian English. It is an example of slang and Manglish. 

Let me explain further.

Manglish is an informal form of Malaysian English that contains words, expressions, and sentence structures from multiple languages such as English, Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese, Mandarin and Tamil.

What makes Manglish fun and unique (but challenging for non-Malaysians to understand) is the way Malaysians use direct translations from the Malay language to change the meanings of some English words. 

I have chosen 11 common Manglish words to discuss in today’s episode of the My English Matters Podcast.

These are words borrowed from the English language but have different meanings and sometimes alternative spellings!

In this episode, I explain the meanings of these slang words, followed by some examples of how Malaysians might use them. I then provide the Standard English alternatives to the words.

You can also listen to this session on SpotifyApple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Here are the 11 Manglish words mentioned in the video:

  1. slumber 
  2. blur
  3. action
  4. power
  5. boring
  6. terror
  7. steady
  8. budget
  9. best
  10. uncle and auntie/aunty
  11. tuition teacher

 

Do remember that as Malaysians, this is our unique way of speaking.

If you are speaking to non-Malaysians, they may not understand Manglish, so be sure to explain yourself by using alternative words and expressions as explained in the video. You could also use this opportunity to explain to non-Malaysians our unique slang words!

Congratulations for reading all the way until the end. You have just learnt the differences between accent, slang, Manglish, Malaysian English and Standard English.

Best tak? 

If you like what you’ve learned here, share this post with others! (Notice I used ‘best’ the Manglish way just now. The standard way to write it is, ‘Did you like this post?’)

Until next time!

To a confident, fluent you!

Azimah

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Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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