Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Malenglish, Part 2.

So it turns out there are a few more characteristic english phrases people here in Sarawak use that no others use. I find their use of these phrases quite interesting actually...in fact I'm starting to unintentionally adopt them. many of these malenglishisms (Malaysian English*) arise because of the direct translation of Chinese dialects  or Bahasa Malay to English, and in many ways these, show something of what the mentality of the culture is like.

"Can you help me to ___ ?"  --> "can you do ____ for me?"

"Can I follow you?"  --> "Can I join you?"    As in   "Can I follow you to Sibu?" " yes, just hop in my car and we'll leave"

"Just nice"   basically just means  "good"  or "great"   but this is my favorite one.

"I do not know how to drink" means "I don't drink" or "I have a really low tolerance/I'm allergic"
In general "I do not know how to ___" means "I don't _____ ", rather than literally not know how to do ___.

Also, the other day, I spoke to Tu and Gilbert about how here in Sarawak (or maybe even Asia), if you ask someone how they are, they might not have an easy time saying "good" (bagus) or even "ok"/'fine' (baik). That is because many of the people (or maybe just Gilbert and Tu) are just more candid about their lives, and don't quite understand how Westerners so commonly speak in positive terms. They always are baffled when I say "things are great" or that like every dish I try is "awesome." "How can everything always be 'great' and 'delicious' for him," they have wondered?
    I guess that makes some people less likely to believe me when I say something like that, but honestly, I've just been loving it all. Even if some food or experience is less than perfect, I always feel like shining some positive light on it will make my memory of the event, or at least the lessons I learned from it, way more positive.I guess I've put a lot of stock in the psychological studies suggesting that happy gestures and thoughts improve overall mood and happiness, at least in the measures they've established for those  very subjective state's of mind.

But then again, I find the candidness of some Sarawakians very endearing, and of course I can always pinpoint the true feelings, making it much easier to rely on anything they say. Moreover, being more realistic in expressing one true feelings does have an advantage of preparing you for the worst possible scenarios, which do on occasion happen. And you would want to be ready for those. I certainly am not.

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