BASIC VOCABULARY LIST (500 words)
English->Malay | French->Malay | Spanish->Malay | Malay->English/French/Spanish
(A mastery of this selected list of the most commonly-used Malay words should help you to carry out a very simple conversation in Malay.)
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Lesson 21 Questions beginning with Di mana
Click to listen
A second reading (by Muhammad Nor Ismat, a native speaker)
Possible answers to the above questions:
1. Di belakang (At the back) or Di tingkat atas (On the top floor)
2. Di bawah meja (Under the table) or Dekat pintu (Near the door)
3. Di sebelah kiri (To the left) or Di sebelah kanan (To the right)
Di sebelah here means "to the side of".
4. Di hadapan anda (In front of you) or Di sana (Over there)
5. Di kedai kopi (In the coffee shop) or Di pejabat (In the office)
6. Di atas meja (On the table) or Di dalam beg anda (In your bag)
But if you don't know the answer to any of the above questions you can simply say Saya tidak tahu or you can surprise your friend by using a very "Malay" expression meaning the same thing: Entahlah (entah meaning "don't know").
In case you have forgotten that the verb "to be" is often left out in Malay, you will be reminded that this is so from the questions above. So in Malay you only need to ask "Where washroom?, Where my shoes?, Where Petaling Street?, Where he?, Where my key?" Don't laugh - after all Malay is not English!
While di can mean "in" or "at" as in the sentence Dia ada di rumah (He is at home) I would suggest that you study di mana to mean "where" (although mana alone also means "where"). If it can help you in any way di mana literally means "in where".
By the way you will notice that di is not joined to the word mana so as to become a single word. In fact di is only joined to verbs so that they become passive as you would have seen in earlier lessons (eg. Dia telah dipukul oleh dua orang samseng means "He was beaten up by two gangsters"). When used with adverbs, however it is not joined to them to become a single word but is detached from them eg. di atas (= above), di bawah (= below), di sana (= over there) and not diatas, dibawah, disana. Not that it is that important, as some Malaysians themselves do not get it right, but good to know.
You might want to replace bilik air with tandas (= toilet) or with a much less exquisite word jamban. Any of these three words would be understood in Malaysia for the washroom or toilet though in some inward areas of the country jamban could be just the place where you defecate and may not even have a washbasin. So better stick to tandas or bilik air if you can. Incidentally while "bathroom" can also mean "washroom" in American English, in Malaysia it can only mean the place where one goes to take one's bath, in which case the word is bilik mandi (mandi meaning "to bathe"). So only if you intend to go for your bath should you ask Mana bilik mandi?
Okay, since we are on this topic let me introduce the two relevant words (apart from the obvious cuci tangan = wash hands). The two words are:
kencing meaning "to urinate" and
berak (the first syllable is pronounced as "bay") meaning "to poo, defecate".
Or if you prefer to use a more refined language, you can also say buang air kecil for the first and buang air besar for the second. If you are curious to know what they mean well the first means "throw little water" and the second "throw big water" - very illuminating indeed! Incidentally this concept of "little" and "big" is also used in Mandarin where to urinate is siao3 bian4 and to defecate is da4 bian4, siao3 meaning "little" or "small" and da4 meaning "big". Wonder if other languages think alike or is it just Asians who think that way.
And if you want more of Malaysian euphemisms (in English this time) instead of saying that you are going to "urinate" you can say that you are going to "put out the fire" while if you need to poop, you can say you're going to the bank! You know you are understood when the listener gives a chuckle instead of asking how much money you are going to withdraw! And also if you are still in your pyjamas and not dressed up for your banker!
Yet another example of euphemism in the Malay language is when you want to say that someone has died. The Malay word for "die" is mati. But the Malays find it too harsh a word to use so instead of saying Dia sudah mati (= He has died) they would often say Dia sudah meninggal dunia. (= He has left the world). By the way you might not be able to find the verb meninggal in a Malay dictionary. This is because it comes from the verb tinggal. Full explanation on the formation of Malay prefixes (a real nightmare for students!) in the Appendix.
By the way the old spelling of air (which in Malay does not mean the air that we breathe but the water that we drink!) was "ayer" which will give a better indication of its pronunciation (that is, as two syllables ah-ear).
But enough of all this digressing - let's get back to our lesson!
More questions: Cultural note: Mnemonics: