8 Phrases Only Malaysians Understand

AIESEC in Malaysia

English, one of the most common language in Malaysia, has our own little twist in it, and we called it Manglish (abbreviation of Malaysian English). Below are 9 of our common Manglish spoken on a day-to-day basis that makes absolutely no sense to foreigners!


1. Open/close the light

Almost every Malaysian uses this, and we understand it perfectly as switching on/off the light. However, it makes no sense to foreigners because you simply can’t open/close any light can you?


2. Gostan

Okay now this is epic. Imagine if you’re now travelling abroad sitting in a taxi, asking the driver to gostan? He would look at you bewildered and wondering what Hobbit language you’re referring to! So don’t be lazy, use go backward instead!


3. Jam

Blueberry jam? Strawberry jam? Or peanut butter jam? NEIN NEIN NEIN! It’s traffic jam that we’re referring to. Try telling your ang-moh friends that you’re stuck in a jam, we promise their reaction will be priceless.


4. I send you back

Back? Back where? This expression is one of the most mind-boggling sentence for ang-moh. When a fellow Malaysian is courteous enough to send their friends back to their home, they will say “I send you back”, this is when the ang-moh will be puzzled.


5. See first

Have you ever had that time when your mat salleh friend ask you whether you wanted to go somewhere or do something, and you reply them with “I see first”? Well, you certainly will need some time to think first, nothing wrong with that, right?


6. Got meh?

Malaysia is a country of diversity and as such we can’t help but to mix in some of this beautiful diversity in our daily conversation. For example, “I just makan” (makan means eat in Malaysian language), “Walao got meh?!”, “Got one lah” etc.


7. I’m coming

When a Malaysian says “I’m coming”, it literally means they will be late for at least 30 minutes.


8. Macam yes tapi bukan

When a Malaysian saw a wannabe, they will say this to them. For example, if we see someone who is not strong but pretends that they are, we will say “Macam yes tapi bukan.”


This is the collection of our favourite 8 Malaysian phrases, which is your favourite? =)

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Having spent 6 weeks in a country that barely understands English, it was already a great challenge just to get food and transport moreover doing what my project needs, introducing my culture. It was always said that everyone has a different perspective, and I did not realize how much it can affect the crowd until I personally had to experience it. What I've learnt is that, things that may seem to be the truth, that is normal to us can be in a different light in somebody else's culture and frame of reference.

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