Wednesday, March 18, 2009

it helps to know a little malay

i was reading this article in today's straits times supplement dl (digital life) about a woman's unpleasant experience with the use of the global positioning system gadget. she had wanted to look for a food joint in jalan sehala in kuala lumpur and was frustrated because it led her to many places. she blamed the software for not being able to locate the actual place.

it reminded me of a joke my daughter told me. this person was visiting malaysia and her parents at home (in some other country) had told her that she should let them know where she was staying when she reached the place. they advised her that in malaysia the word for road is 'jalan' and so she should look for a 'jalan something' which would be the name of the road. soon, she wrote to her parents telling them, yes, that she was staying at a hotel in 'jalan sehala'.

'jalan sehala' is the malay word for 'one way street'. so, if you key in 'jalan sehala' in your personal navigation device, i am sure you will be going around in circles.

it helps to know a little malay. for that matter, it helps to know a little of the language of the place you are visiting. if you are a chinese, it also helps if you know some dialects, especially your own.


JollyGreenP said...

Hi YG,
we had a similar experience in Germany when we were visiting Munster one of York's twin cities. As we were walking around my wife said "this Einbahn Strasse seems to be a long street with lots of twists and turns". she couldn't understand why our two boys were laughing at her remark until I pointed out to her with a big grin on my face that there was always an arrow underneath anit meant one way street!

yg said...

hi john, 'einbahn strasse' would have greek to me but i do know a few malay words because of the exposure here and in malaysia. i picked up words like 'utara', 'seletan' and kurang laju' from my hitch-hiking days in west malaysia.

nah said...

You learnt Malay, the fun way, through hitch-hiking in Malaysia. We learnt Malay, the hard way, sacrificing every Saturday afternoon at RI, which was then at the present Raffles City premises.
Those days, it was a requirement that all teachers must pass Malay Standard 1, in order to become a confirmed teacher. The examination consisted of both oral and written Malay. The written paper had a comprehension passage and questions on Malay literature. Those who ‘tak lulus’ had to retake the examination, and there were teachers who had to sit for the examination, several times, in order to be placed on the establishment.