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Manglish

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Manglish is the version of the English language as spoken in Malaysia and shares substantial linguistic similarities with Singlish in Singapore.

Theoretically, English as spoken in Malaysia is based on British English and British spelling is generally followed, but the influence of American English modes of expression and slang is strong, particularly among Malaysian youth.

Since 1968, Malay, or Bahasa Melayu, has been the country's sole official language, and while English is widely used, many Malay words have become part of common usage in informal English or Manglish. An example is suffixing sentences with lah, e.g. "Don't be so worried-lah", which is usually used to present a sentence as rather light-going and not so serious, the suffix has no specific meaning. Although Chinese dialects also make abundant use of the suffix lah and there is some disagreement as to which language it was originally borrowed from. There is also a strong influence from Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, and Tamil, which are other major dialects and languages spoken in Malaysia.

Speakers of Manglish from the country's different ethnic groups tend to intersperse varying amounts of expressions or interjections from their mother tongue - be it Malay, Chinese or Indian - which, in some cases, qualifies as a form of code-switching.

Due to exposure to other languages and dialects, particularly within the national school system, members of a particular ethnic group may be familiar with phrases or expressions originating from languages other than their mother tongue and may, in fact, apply them in their daily speech, regardless of the ethnicity of their audience. This is especially true in the case of interjections and vulgar slang.

Words that are Manglish:

  • "gostan" - reversing the car
  • "kapster" - someone who is talkative

Note: Malaysian English as described on this page is not official English. Therefore, terms such as -lah should not be used in a formal discussion.

See British and Malaysian English differences for more information.

See also

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