BASIC VOCABULARY LIST (500 words)
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(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 38 Tolong Please (asking a service)
Correction: Malay sentence should be Tolong tunggu di sini.
A second reading (by Muhammad Nor Ismat, a native speaker)
Tolong is the word to use when you are asking a service or help from someone.
Thus "Can you help me?" would be Bolehkah anda tolong saya? or if you want to speak like the locals do, that is, colloquially, just say Boleh tolong sikit? (literally Can you help a bit?)
The usual answer is simply Boleh (= Can) or if you feel like impressing your interlocutor answer with Memang boleh. (Of course I can help you!) Make sure you pronounce it as may-mang (remember that the e vowel has got two pronunciations in Malay, the other more common one being er).
Note: The usual answer to requests beginning with the word Tolong, for example, Tolong jawab telefon (Please answer the phone) is: Baiklah. (= okay)
When used alone (usually as an exclamation) Tolong! means Help! Thus if you shout out loudly TOLONG! you are asking the people around you for help as you are in trouble (as when you are being forcibly robbed or attacked but certainly not when you are drowning!) In this last case it is likely to be the bystanders who will shout out TOLONG! on your behalf!
Much easier though is to ask someone to close the window: Tolong tutup tingkap. You can also say: Tolong tutup jendela as both tingkap and jendela mean "window". But as jendela is the word that is more frequently used in Indonesia than tingkap you might as well stick to this word.
An expression meaning "If you don't mind, please..." which is perhaps not so easy to learn but which is sure to impress people with your politeness (and your Malay!) when you use it, is: Kalau tidak keberatan, tolong... followed by whatever favour you want the person to whom you are saying this to do eg. if you wish somebody to explain something to you all over again you can say: Kalau tidak keberatan (a little pause) tolong terangkan kepada saya sekali lagi. (= If you don't mind, please explain it to me again).
The word keberatan (= unwillingness, objection) comes from the word berat which means "heavy" as in Barang ini berat (This thing is heavy).