Then I entered form 1 in AlMashoor, and imagine the ‘culture shock’ I suffered!
Most of us were from around Penang and Kedah so everyone talked in the Penang dialect, even in class sometimes during Bahasa lessons. I felt like the odd one out with the difference in the way I spoke to everyone. But most of the girls were nice and never stopped trying to teach me the ‘correct’ way of conversing Penang-style. Though yes, I made a lot of mistakes. For example, any word ending with ‘r’ in the standard Malay language with be turned into ending with ‘q’ like air=ayaq, besar=besaq, ular=ulaq. I once said ‘petiaq’ for ‘petir’ which left my dormates laughing tak hengat haha.. that was the last time I tried talking in the Penang dialect for a very long time.
Still, sometimes when reading what my friends write in their FB statuses, I sometimes remember how hard and confusing it was once upon a time ago haha..
Confusing? You might wonder why I say its confusing especially if you’re the Penang Piau clan but to me, some words made me question the complexity of the Malay language. You see, Penangites use a lot of standard Malay words, unlike some other state dialect where some words are totally unrecognizable. But Penangites sure love to twist the words around till it doesn’t mean the same as it should in the standard version.
I’ve made a list of those words here:
Kami: Is supposed to mean ‘us’ in standard Malay but Penangites especially children love using it as a substitute to ‘I’ or ‘saya’. I myself used that until cikgu Noerida taught me to use ‘saya’ which (some might say) unfortunately, I’m still using till now instead of the usual ‘aku’ everyone else uses haha..
Bilang: means ‘kira’ or ‘count’ or ‘calculate' kannn? But in Penang, bilang means ‘bagitau’. I remember being confused on why my friend wanted to ‘bilang kat mak kami’. I wondered how many mothers did she have hehe..
Lagu ni: which should mean ‘this song’ but to them, it means ‘like this’. When my friend taught me to do it ‘lagu ni’, I almost imagined her wanting to sing out to me as she taught me how to sew in our Kemahiran Hidup class
Eksyen: Ok.. ni bkn Malay word but derived from the word ‘action’ kot, I supposed. Action means like ‘perbuatan’, right? But to these people, eksyen means ‘show-off’. I had a friend who liked showing off a bit during standard 1 coz she came from a rich family and when the other kids called her ‘eksyen’, I almost laughed. Especially since you have to have a certain way to say if for it to sound right!
Tak dan: This was confusing as ‘tak’ means ‘not’ and dan means ‘and’ which is ridiculous with no meaning at all. But here, it means ‘tak sempat’ or ‘not enough time’
Tak dan dan: Those words still mean the same in standard Malay but this time it means ‘tak sabo²’ heheh..
Lapaq ayaq: which means ‘hungry for water’.. go figure! Hahah.. Abah (a Perakian!) use to say ‘dahaga nasik’ (thirsty for rice) just to poke fun in it as it was something we didn’t quite understand then but I’ve grown to miss hearing someone say this ☺
Segan: This should mean ‘shy’ or ‘malu’ but to them it means ‘lazy’. Hahah.. I remember Yun who was sleeping in the same cubicle as Yana. Yana was a Kedahan (the Kedah Piau sort) and Yun was a Johorian. One day, Yana told Yun, “Aku segan la nak basuh baju” which made Yun confused on why she felt SHY in washing her clothes hahah..
Pada la: ‘pada’ is like ‘with’ la camtu.. but in Penang, ‘pada laaa..’ means ‘patut la’ or ‘no wonder’.. see, mane sy tak konpius! Heheh.. when I told Bart about how I got a cut in my hand a few years ago, she said, ‘pada la’ and I was wondering what she meant by it since in standard Malay, itu agak tergantung kaaannn..
Mintak nyawa: Ni paling menakutkan haha.. I actually turned around in panic when I heard my junior say this during sports day at Westlands. I thought she was having a heart attack or something since it literally means ‘asking for a soul/life’ but it turned out she was just out of breath after entering the race. Really made me think that these Penangites are Drama Queens indeed!
Teriak: When I was in form 1, it was the first time for most of us to stay in the hostel, away from home. So it was normal to see a girl crying for being a bit home-sick. One day, my friend was crying quietly as it was her first day in the hostel (unlike most of us who have been in the hostel for one whole month then). After trying to console her, we left her to cry quietly at the back of the class then another friend asked what was the matter with the crying girl. Then Mak Su said, “Dia teriak!” and I was stubbornly telling them, “Dia tak teriak la, dia nangis je..” which made me be the laughing stock of the class for a while coz while I knew ‘teriak’ meant ‘shout’, my friends are more familiar with it meaning ‘cry’. Maunye sy tak konpius, budak tu nangis pelan je pun haha..
Simpan buang: This from kak Wan, a Kedahan, who married Dr Burn who’s from Melaka. After diner one night, she told her daughter to ‘simpan buang’ all the leftovers when her mother-in-law quickly protested on why nak ‘buang’, lauk tu elok lagi heheh..
1 duit: or when said fast would sound like ‘satu dek’ which I thought meant ‘satu adik’ haha.. ade ke jual beli gune adik?!?! Boleh kah Ayu? I always protested and stubbornly said 1 sen coz to me, duit can be any coin or banknote and not just confined to the one-cent coin
Gurmit: Which I thought was the name of a Singh but actually meant a ‘pencil sharpener’
Well, that’s not all but I can’t recall the other words right now. Its because of this that tho, as I said earlier, I’m quite good in my Penang dialect (haha.. pasan!), I could never bring myself to use these expressions.
Still, I’m not writing about this to condemn the Penang dialect or something. But its because talking to Yan, Diana and Bart a few Fridays ago (when they laughingly said behind my back that I was ‘pi hampaq tikaq semayang kat Masjid Parit Buntaq’ just because I didn’t reply to the FB thread started by Bart), I realize I miss hearing my friends talking like that and funnily enough, I also miss hearing them laugh at the way I talk too..
..and something else I just realized, its in hearing anyone near me talk in the Penang/Northern dialect do I really feel more at home!