Lesson 34 Sila (Please)
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A second reading (by Muhammad Nor Ismat, a native speaker)
For those who want to know more:
The word Sila can be translated as "Please" in English and is usually used when you invite someone respectfully to do something. Thus Sila datang ke rumah saya bila senang means "Please come to my house when you are free." So just remember that Sila is always used for a polite invitation or request.
In the case of asking a service of another or for help it is better to use the word Tolong (see Lesson 38) to remove all ambiguity. Example: Tolong bantu saya. (Please help me.)
When you want your guests to feel really at home you can say Buat seperti di rumah sendiri (literally) Make as if you are in your own house, or as we say in English: Make yourself at home!
When Sila is used with the suffix kan it doesn't need any other word to go with it as it has the sense of "Go ahead" or "Help yourself".
Thus when someone asks if he can borrow something from you (eg. Boleh saya pinjam pen anda sekejap? meaning "Can I borrow your pen for a moment?") you can just say Silakan (the equivalent in English being "Sure, go ahead" or "Sure, just help yourself".
Another word that is often used in the place of Sila is Jemput (a verb meaning "to invite") or Jemputlah. Thus when you invite someone to enter your house you can say Jemputlah masuk.
When asking guests to help themselves to the food that is displayed on the table you can simply say Jemputlah or Silakan (both of which mean "Please help yourself") with your hand showing the table where the food is. Similarly instead of saying Sila makan you can also say Jemput makan.