Young Malaysians tell us why they love their local Malay dialect or loghat.
Born into a Malay and Melanau family, Sharifah Nurhidayah learnt how to speak in Sarawak’s Malay loghat since she was a child.
“When my friends from other states hear me speak in my loghat, they say I sound like I’m speaking in Thai or even Tagalog, ” shares the marketing director.
“My favourite phrase is ‘Aih, nang antap’, which is ‘Wah, it’s so good’.
When Kang speaks Malay outside Kelantan, it’s always an ice-breaker as people find a Chinese speaking in flawless Kelantanese dialect fascinating.
Most of them would respond with probably the only Kelantanese phrase they know, “tok pehe” (don’t understand) when she “kecek Kelate” (speak in Kelantan’s dialect).
Born and raised in Kota Baru, the Universiti Sains Malaysia undergraduate learnt to speak Kelantanese Malay from friends while growing up. Since then, she has also been exposed to other Malay dialects.
“Even with our different loghats and rojak language, we can still make sense of it and understand each other, ” says Evonne, who is so proud of her loghat.
Preschool teachers and twins Fara Dayani and Fara Dayana say most people immediately recognise they are from the north of Peninsular Malaysia from the way they speak Malay.
“Some might say our loghat sound a bit harsh, but we think it’s melodious, ” says Dayana.
The Northern, or Utara loghat is spoken not only in Kedah, but also in Penang, Perlis and some parts of Perak. It’s characterised by a sing song tone.
“We say some words differently, such as air (water) which we pronounce ‘ayaq’. There are words in the northern lingo such as ketegaq (stubborn) and bebai (to sulk).”
Povanesvaran grew up among the Chinese in Kota Kinabalu but he learnt to speak Malay from everyone around him. He loves how expressive he can be in Sabah Malay, be it to be serious or funny.
In Sabah lingo, ‘bah’ is a popular modifier, like ‘lah’ elsewhere but used more broadly. Bah can mean different things depending on the sentence’s context.
“My favourite phrase is ‘buli bah kalau kau’, which means ‘Can, if it’s you’, ” shares the actuarial science graduate.
Afiqah grew up speaking in Terengganu loghat, or as the locals say, “cakak Tranung”.
Its most unique characteristic is words are modified with “ng”. Makan (eat) is pronounced as “makang’, and ayam (chicken) as ayang.
Zulfaqar loves his state’s dialect, especially its flow and rhythm, even if others might find it gruff.
“People who are not used to Negri Sembilan’s loghat may think we are angry at them, but we are not, ” says the student from Batu Kikir, Negri Sembilan.
Some of the local lingo includes motan (skipping class), mumba (reverse), poloso (lazy), godek (to look for) and minam (drink).
“I believe that no matter what our loghats are, they are tools for us to communicate, and being different is not a hindrance to our unity, ” he says.