Do You Speak Manglish?

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Have you heard of Manglish before? How different is it from Standard English?

As a global language, English has taken on different variations (forms) in countries where English is not the native language. 

In these countries, the English language evolves and adapts to the local culture by incorporating elements of the local language.

Hence, new words, expressions, and even grammatical structures that are as unique as the countries themselves are created.

This is what has happened to English in Malaysia, where the country’s diverse cultures and languages have influenced it, resulting in a one-of-a-kind version of the language known as Manglish.

Manglish is a blend of English, Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Tamil. 

In Manglish, the meanings of many words differ significantly from their Standard English counterparts.

This is discussed further in this episode of the My English Matters podcast where Madam Azimah chats with Dr Nor Azikin Mohd Omar from the Centre for English Language Studies at UniSZA. They provide ten English words and phrases that are unique to Malaysians!

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

The words and phrases discussed in this episode are:

1.     Sporting

My boss is so sporting.

Manglish definition:
Used to describe someone who is easy-going, cool and fun to be around.

Standard English definition:
Showing fairness and respect towards an opposing team or player (old fashioned).

2.     Tackle

Don’t tackle her. She’s married.

Manglish definition:
To approach someone with the intention to flirt with them.

Standard English definition:
To try to take the ball from a player in the other team, especially in football or hockey.

3.     Liquid

I made a mistake. Let me liquid this.

Manglish definition:
To apply correction fluid.

Standard English definition:
A substance, such as water, that is not solid are a gas and that can be poured easily.

4.     Sound

My boss sound me in front of my colleagues.

Manglish definition:
To scold or shout/scream at someone.

Standard English definition:
Something that you can hear or that can be heard.

5.     KIV

Let’s just KIV that idea.

Manglish definition:
To keep for the future or hold onto for later. An abbreviation of ‘keep in view’.

Standard English definition:
‘KIV’ or ‘keep in view’ aren’t used in Standard English.

6.     Outstation

I have to go outstation next week.

Manglish definition:
To be out of town for work.

Standard English definition:
A settlement in an area where few people live.

7.     Cannot

Question:        Can you do something for me?
Answer:           Cannot!

Manglish definition:

Standard English definition:
The negative form of the verb ‘can’.

8.     Got

Question:       Do you have a pen I can borrow?
Answer:         Got!

Manglish definition:
Yes, I do.

Standard English definition:
The past simple and past participle of ‘get’.

9.     Settle

Question:      Can you make sure the bills are paid today?
Answer:        Okay, settle.

Manglish definition:

Standard English definition:
To reach a decision or an agreement about something, or to end a disagreement.

10. Go first

go home first.

Manglish definition:
To leave.

Standard English definition:
To be the first to go. Example: I will go first. You will go second.


Make sure you watch the episode to listen to how these words and phrases are used in Manglish and Standard English contexts.

To help you lessen misunderstandings, Madam Azimah also provides the Standard English alternatives to all of the Manglish words and phrases discussed.


Until next time!

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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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