Read How Singaporeans Use These Five Malay Words Differently

Singlish is just as funny as Manglish.

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Read How Singaporeans Use These Five Malay Words Differently
Image: ExpatGo
Ahhh... the never-ending social rivalry between Malaysia and Singapore.

We fight about almost everything under the sun, like history, food, people, even down to the language, but in a non-violent way lah (at least we can both agree to the usage of this word). 

We're familiar with our own Manglish (Malay and English) words that non-Malaysians will never understand because besides combining typical Malay and English terms, we also throw in other dialects like Cantonese, Hokkien or Mandarin.

For example, 'chun' (pretty), 'lan si' (arrogant), 'potong stim' (killjoy), and our personal favourite 'mempersiasuikan' (to embarrass), etc.

Since our neighbours down south pretty much speak the same languages and dialects as we do, they also have their own set of borrowed words which they dub as Singlish (Singaporean English), particularly Malay words.

But the problem is, Singlish contains borrowed words which has a completely different meaning in Malay, which annoys some Malaysians.

When was the last time you opened a dictionary?
Recently, the South China Morning Post tested Google Home to see if the device understands Singlish. And lo and behold, it understood the word 'kaki' as 'friend' because it's a common slang in Singapore. But some people were triggered because the origin of the Malay words means 'leg'. 

So to add oil to fire, the daily found a few more Malay words that are used differently in Singapore. We got to say, some of them will raise eyebrows.


Malay: potato (originally spelled kentang in Malay)
Singlish: Westernised Singaporean 

How do you pronounce 'potato'?
Singaporeans use the word 'kantang' to describe someone who can only speak English and not their mother tongue.

Karung guni

Malay: gunny sack
Singlish: rag-and-bone man

Have you ever played with a gunny sack when you were a kid?
It used to be common to see rag-and-bone men who would go round housing estates collecting unwanted household items or newspapers while carrying a gunny sack and cart. The term 'karung guni' was used to describe these older men.


Malay: wood 
Singlish: being unfair or stupid

Don't be a 'kayu'.
Here's a word that has a different meaning in Manglish as well. We use 'kayu' to describe someone who is not flexible or has no expression. But in Singapore, 'kayu' refers to someone who is making an unfair decision, like a referee at a football match.


Malay: offshore fishing platform 
Singlish: match fixing or cheating 

Would you live on a kelong?
This is a strange one. For example, if the results of a football game seems suspicious, Singaporeans will say that it's kelong because the player may have been bribed or the match could have been fixed beforehand.


Malay: marble (originally spelled gundu in Malay)
Singlish: idiotic

One of our favourite games when we were kids.
In Singapore, they call someone who is stupid a gundu, because the Malay word also means something hard and heavy. 

What do you think? Do you know more words claimed by Singlish?

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