I forgot something great. I was in a little neighborhood Chinese food court, and I ordered a “teh o ice” which means ice tea without milk and the guy screams to the back, “TEH O PING, AH!” Ping! I forgot about ping, this onomatopoeic word that means “ice” because of the “ping” sound ice makes when you put it in a glass. LOVE stuff like that. (The “AH!” is the classic Chinese ending to any phrase. I have quickly added it to my active vocabulary to the endless irritation of everyone around me.)
A question: usually when they make this “TEH O PING, AH!”, they spoon out some liquid sugar instead of granular sugar, but what is the equivalent amount in sugar cubes?
And what about cooking with palm oil? It’s a major industry here and whenever a foreign country disparages Malaysia’s claims about the health benefits of palm oil—which is every single time—Malaysia goes into major freak-out mode and trots out a Malaysian university’s study about how it can make people walk on water and leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Is everyone asleep? I’m the only one who thinks about this stuff. Let’s just move on.
I was looking for an empty mailing box and I asked the cashier how much the one I found in her store costs. She sweetly said, “F-O-C, lah!” Have I not said anything yet about Malaysian English, or “Manglish”? It, along with Singaporean English, Singlish, and to a lesser extent, the Chinglish spoken in Hong Kong, is amazing to hear. It has an oddly syncopated chop-chop, but at the same time there is a mellifluous flow that I never get tired of hearing. It has been my life-long dream to become fluent in Manglish/Singlish, and it will be a life-long struggle.
Anyway, I figured out that “FOC” means “free of charge” and “lah” is just a reflexive thing they say all the time that means, “you know” or “isn’t it”.
Hearing this kind of English is the reason every traveler falls in love with the first Malaysian they meet when they come here, or, in my case, the first Indian transvestite. (A joke! A joke!)
Anyone want a postcard from Malaysia? First person to reply here below and say so gets one.