Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Classical Malay

Assalaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah

Just recording about Malay language especially when we were disconnected with our ancestral land in Yemen because of family problems and unexpected events in life. I actually speak and understand few languages due our hybrid nature. While historically in South East Asia, our people are well-versed with Classical Malay and Arabic. When people talk about Classical Malay, automatically people would come to the language used in the Malacca Sultanate of 14th century.

However, we have our own version of Classical Malay language in Northern Malayan Peninsula. It is largely influenced by the Patanese and Acheen version of Classical Malay while there are also Classical Malay spoken in our capital in Alor Setar since 18th century.  Our sultanate was also invaded at once by the 16th century Acheen Sultanate of Northern Sumatera. Some people said that there was no Acheen influence in Kedah but there is "some" influence such as in cuisine where we also have their Kueh Karas and few Acheen words were absorbed in Kedah Malay for e.g jelan lidah (Acheen: jelen lidah) which means stick out the tongue. Other than that, we also received the kitabs from their Sultanate around 11th century just after the sultanate of Kedah accept Islam as the court religion.

The Classical Malay language was used to be a medium for all of the people in our sultanates to convey ideas and also as a medium of da'awa. Our people had also used Arabic script to transcript the previously Pallava written Malay maybe because they were lazy to learn the complex Pallava script or because they were non-Hindus. In Southern Thailand, the Classical Malay is known as Jawi language and is spoken in few provinces of Southern Thailand such as Yala, Patani, Narathiwat, Songkhla and Satun. While in Malaysia, it is spoken with its variants in Kelantan and Baling or Sik in Kedah. My Malay actually sounds more like these people because I mingled with the Hulu people of Kedah and sometimes people might mistaken me to a Kelantanese, hehehe... 

Malay language exists in Northern Malayan Peninsula up to Krabi province in Thailand since the era of Srivijayan Buddhist Malay empire. Regarding Kedah Malay and their variants, I could say that I am quite expert in it and we also created our secret language where no one from other area or region would understand us. The grammar is more or less is according to old language. Sometimes, people who never read religious books in Classical Malay would be dumbfounded and thinking that we are of different era... I just learned to speak in Modern Standard Malay at school and it also makes me a lot in pain when I pronounce everything differently to what is written on the board...

Some words which were derived from the hybrid Classical Malay that we still use are like:

Kutub khanah (Persian): Library
Kitab (Arabic): Book
Pondok (Arabic): Madrasa, Motel
Melele (Malay): Temple
Sakar (Arabic): Sugar
Kanzulmal (Arabic): Treasury
Petitih (Malay): History
Perhamba, diperhamba (Malay): polite version of first pronoun
Boran (Sanskrit, Thai): Ancient, Old
Achard (Hindi): Pickled vegetable 
Faranggi (Persian): White man, caucasian
Kaus kaki: Shoes
Haram zadah (Persian): Bastard
Lau ayam (Thai+Malay): Chicken coop
Nyedra (Sanskrit): Sleep soundly... The real word is Chandra which means moon...
Taqwim (Arabic): Calender 
Dastar (Persian): Turban 
Narang (Persian): Orange
Cheruk (Khmer, Malay): Hidden land
Belalai (Malay): Nose  
Lebai (Persian): Non-Arabic speaking man who had performed pilgrimage usually indicated by their white skull-cap
Lemari (Portuguese): Closet 
Bantal kaki (Malay): Malay royalties' friend
Tali api (Malay): Wire
Pera-Pera (Malay): Plastic tupperware
Kerchong (Malay): Basket
Ngenjuk (Malay): Take and give something to someone 

Nowadays, we mixed the language a lot with English or even speaking fully in English because it makes us a lot easier to communicate with people including with Malays of other states. Other than that, we always use the particles such as "lah" or "pun" even when speaking in Chinese and we also spontaneously would use the beginning of sentences such as "makanya", haha... I checked these with some Hui Chinese students from China at my university last time and astonishingly some of the words especially of Arabic and Persian origin are similar to theirs while they were from rural region of Western China : O I think that these hybridization looks like Jewish hybrid languages in Europe too such as Ladino or Yiddish where we absorb the words that we listened and we also use our own words when we do not know native words, lol...

Sealed with prayers for mercy, peace and love, amin!


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