Malaysian Culture: Manglish (Malaysia English)


MALAYSIA Mar. 01. 2021

Cultural Broadcasting Team

Hi there! It’s me again Ang Jin Teong (洪锦忠) from Malaysia!

From the title, you could guess that I am going to share a unique culture in Malaysia which we call “Manglish.” Manglish is actually the combination of multiple locally spoken languages, which are then added into English sentence structure.

As I have mentioned in the previous post, there are 3 main races in Malaysia. They are the Malays, Chinese and Indians. As a multiracial country, our cultures tend to intertwine and affect each other. The most obvious effect observed is in language. Malaysians, regardless of different races, tend to mix a few languages into a single sentence. We can even have 4 different languages in a single sentence! Example as below:

Ane, one roti canai dabao!”

Tamil | English | Malay | Chinese

Ane = Brother in Tamil

Roti canai = is a puffed bread served hot with curry or dhal (usually taken as a breakfast item in Malaysia)

Dabao = is takeout  in Chinese 打包 (but this is also a Malaysian’s Chinese slang)


This sentence is usually heard at a roadside stall that sells roti canai. Also, it can be heard ” in a mamak restaurant.  So try to remember this, when you are ordering food in Malaysia!


Besides that, Manglish  has evolved from English slang and it has developed its own version of slang. Therefore, some words in Manglish  have more meaning than the original English word.


Manglish: You lunch already?

English: Have you eaten lunch?

Description: To ask if the other person has eaten lunch.


Manglish: Why like that one?

English: Why is this so?

Description: This is used to express dissatisfaction, and an occurrence that is out of expectation.


Manglish: You want this or not?

English: Do you want this?

Description: To offer if the other person wants the object. It is meant to show impatience. 


Manglish: You got or not?

English: Do you have it with you?

Description: To inquire if the person has an object in their possession.


Manglish: Ok wor.

English: That looks good.

Description: To show your agreement or satisfaction. This can be applied to a object or scenario.


Manglish: Ok la, ok lor, ok meh?

English: I think that is good, fine, are you sure that is fine?

Description: The three sentences sound similar, but their meaning greatly differs. 

1) is an agreement, 

2) is a agreement with dissatisfaction, 

3) is to seek approval.


Other than that, Manglish sentences tend to have the word ‘already’ added at the end of a sentence. For example:

·        You eat already?

·        He went back home already.

You can easily grasp the meaning. However, ‘already’ can be used to imply something is happening, or something has happened. This ‘already’ can be used in the past tense. This makes the meaning multifunctional.


Some other non-translatable expressions:

Oi – To call for someone without knowing their name ( it sounds rude in a sense).  If yelled with a heavy tone,  this would express anger and dissatisfaction.

Adui – To show dissatisfaction and disappointment

Haiya/ Haiyo – To show disgust and dissatisfaction

Wei – It has the same application as “Hey.”  It is directly translated from Chinese Language into Mandarin.

waa – is to show astonishment. It is a fills the space when trying to think of what next to say =D

wor – Is added to the end of the sentence. It  does not have any meaning on its own.

la – It is added to the end of a sentence. It is used to show emphasis.


So when you come to Malaysia next time, I hope this can help you understand the local slang better! Don’t be shy and ask for help from the locals! We are friendly!






MALAYSIA Mar. 01. 2021

Cultural Broadcasting Team