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Some Say Besau, Some Say Besar

Uniquely Malay: A quick look at the different dialects that we speak.

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Some Say Besau, Some Say Besar
How well do you know the local dialects? (Image: www.celcomescape.com)
Malaysia is often known for being a cultural melting pot that is rich in traditions and delicious food offerings. But more than that, it's also interesting to note that due to our unique mash of communities, we're also the home to multiple local dialects, with each state carrying its own brand of the language.

With Malaysia Day just around the corner, let's zoom in on the official Malay dialects that are unique to the different states in the country.

Perak

Multiple dialects are spoken in Perak, depending on which part of the state you're at. For example, those in the North (Kerian and Larut Matang) lean towards the Pulau Pinang dialect while those in the South (the area between Batang Padang and Bagan Datoh) speak with a Semenanjung dialect, possibly influenced by their neighbour, Selangor. However, the authentic Perak dialect is said to be the Lembah Sungai Perak version commonly used in Perak Tengah, which comprises of areas such as Kuala Kangsar, Parit and Kampung Gajah.


Penang, Kedah and Perlis

As the Northern states of the country, the Malay communities naturally speak in the Northern dialect. This dialect is widely used in movies and is one of the easiest to understand and learn.


Pahang

There are at about eight types of dialects in Pahang, with each main suburb (Pekan, Benta, Raub, Ulu Tembeling, Rompin, Temerloh, Kuala Lipis and Bentong) rocking their own version. Hence, an object could be referred to as different names depending on the local community that you're in.


Kelantan

The local dialect here, popularly known as Kelate, is used throughout the state. What's more, it's not only spoken by the Malays, but also by the Chinese, Indians and Siamese, who call Kelantan home.


Terengganu

Base Ganu is spoken everywhere in the states save for Pulau Perhentian and the North of Besut--the people there speak Kelate instead. This local dialect is known for its emphasis on the pronunciation of the letter 'g'.


Sabah

Sabah's local dialect is a rather unique one. On top of its ethnic local languages (influenced by the Kadazan Dusun, Bajau, Suluk, Murut and other ethnic communities), it also displays elements of Indonesian, Tagalog and Brunei Malay.


Sarawak

In this part of the country, regardless if you're an Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Dayak or Melanau Cina, the local dialect is spoken by all.


Johor

If you're not from the state, you wouldn't notice much difference between the local Malay and KL's version. Plus, it doesn't sound as different as the ones in other states such as Kelantan and Kedah. However, if you pay more attention, you'll realise that Johoreans have incorporated a bunch of 'odd' words into their vocabulary.


Melaka

The dialect spoken here is sometimes described as very harsh-sounding. However, the people certainly aren't--it's just the way of the dialect!


Negeri Sembilan

Out of all the Malay dialects spoken in Malaysia, Negeri Sembilan's is the most pleasing to the ear. However, non-locals may have a tough time figuring out the meaning of the words.



This is just the tip of the iceberg where local Malay dialects are concerned. There are many more funky words to discover! So the next time you head to another state for a holiday, pi la tanya orang depa pahtu blajaq la skit-skit (Northern Penang dialect for "speak to the locals and learn their language")!

* Information was extracted from this original Rojak Daily article: Oh My Loghat Malaysia!
 
 
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