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Lesson 16 of A Basic Malay Language Course by pgoh13

Lesson 16 Kalau ..... (If .....)



Click to listen to the Malay sentences.

A second reading (by Michelle Nor Ismat, a native speaker)

If it rains he will not come. Kalau hujan dia tidak akan datang.
If you are sick, go and see a doctor. Kalau sakit pergi jumpa doktor.
If you don't understand ask me. Kalau tidak faham tanyalah saya.
If that is the case I will not go. Kalau begitu saya tidak akan pergi.
Vocabulary
hujan = to rain or rain (as a noun)
datang = to come
sakit = sick
jumpa = to meet, see (someone)
faham = to understand
tanya = to ask
begitu = like that
pergi = to go

The above are examples of conditional sentences using "If". Needless to say kalau is a very important word to know if (there you are, even I cannot help using it to explain this lesson) you want to tell your friend that you won't be going if it rains. And as in English, the word kalau can also come in the second part of the sentence instead of at the very beginning. Example:
Dia tidak akan datang kalau hujan. (He will not come if it rains). Oh, by the way, in the third example above you have the sentence Kalau tidak faham tanyalah saya. In case you are wondering what lah means, well it is just to attenuate the sentence so that it doesn't sound like an order. It can be left out so the sentence could simply be Kalau tidak faham tanya saya. But adding it makes the sentence sound so much more friendly and less authoritative!

For those who want to know more

Kalau hujan dia tak datang (in the blinking banner above) is the colloquial form of Kalau hujan dia tidak akan datang which would be too long to fit into the banner space.
Note in passing that tak is the abbreviated form of tidak and that akan can be left out as it is implied in the context (though it is better to have it in to avoid any possible misunderstanding).
Note that in sentences 2 and 3 in the above table anda (you) is not necessary as it is obvious that you are referring to the person whom you are addressing. But just as in English, if you want to put the word "you" in those sentences, you will have to change the sentences a bit. So Sentence 2 becomes:
"If you are sick, you should go to see a doctor" and in Malay
Kalau sakit, anda harus pergi jumpa doktor.
Ok, let's not complicate matters further, shall we?
The suffix lah in Kalau tidak faham tanyalah saya cannot really be translated into English. It is added just to soften the tone so that it does not appear as a harsh order but as a friendly suggestion. I cannot help repeating this explanation as it is something that is typically Malaysian so non-Malaysians might easily be perplexed as to its usage.
By the way, this Malay suffix "lah" has infiltrated so widely into "Manglish" (Malaysian English) that no true Malaysian, however well-educated he might be in English, can do without it when speaking to fellow Malaysians. The very use of it ignites a kind of Malaysian intimity from which the foreigner (non-Malaysian) is excluded, as explained in this delightful article on "The Adorable Lah" by Lee Su Kim.

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