Language plays a very important role in any community and is a unifying factor. It brings us closer to each other and a sense of belonging. We acknowledge the fact that the Malay language is the lingua franca of our country but each state somehow speak the Malay language with different accent particularly in their effort to emphasize something unique or important. The most notable is Kelantan Malay. If you hear two Kelantanese speaking to each other, you would have thought that they both came from a different country but the fact is they are talking in the Malay language. Some people say the Malay language spoken by the Kelantanese is a dialect by itself. My family married to so many Kelantanese and when they meet, they speak their lingo and I will just smile listening to them.
In my hometown in the fifties and sixties, there were two areas within the town center called Kampung Kelantan and Kampung Kedah. In these two kampungs lived those who came from Kelantan and Kedah respectively.They were very hard working people and business minded. My uncle once told my auntie “Orang Melayu di bandar dah tak banyak, yang banyak orang Kelantan dan orang Kedah”. Most of them today have become one hundred percent Muarians and they are proud to be Muarians.
Muarians of my time were very proud people that they even segregated themselves from being Johorians. Some even arrogantly said, “There won’t be a Malaysian without a Johorian and not a Johorian without a Muarian”. I think this is a bit too much, but nevertheless Muarians of my time somehow were quite over bearing through their own exaggerated feeling of superiority among other Johorians which I detest.
In this article I would like to share with you some of the words used by Muarians of my time and I think some of these words are still being used by the present generation. Some are peculiar, some unique and few are hilarious to the ears. Some of these words are spoken by other Malays in the state of Johor as well particularly those from Batu Pahat.
I will begin with the most peculiar words of ‘Aa aah egk!’ If you seem to agree when someone tells you something, then you will reply by just saying ‘aa aah egk’ but your tune must be correct. You begin with ‘aa’, then lower your voice when you say ‘aah’ and immediately go up when you say ‘egk’. On the other hand, if you tell someone something and you want him to agree, then your sentence will end with the word ‘egk’. For example…”Durian kalau kita makan dengan nasi sedap egk!. In this case the ‘egk’ means ‘don’t you think so?’
Another peculiar statement would be your reply when someone boasted about something, your reply would be ‘Sudahlah, sana boleh cakap, Korea boleh dengar’. This statement simply implies that you are not interested or even bothered to hear any further. I can’t figure out from where the word ‘Korea’ comes from?
‘Gedebak gedebook’ is another statement hilarious to the ears. This statement is used to indicate the moral of the story or even to suggest “at the end of the day”. For example, “Macam mana pun kita cuba, gedebak gedebook pun kita kena balek pada yang asal”.
‘Duduk kat tengah tengah dunia’ is another intriguing statement. As the statement itself describes, it means ‘in a position most visible to the eyes’. Even if one parks his car that may cause inconvenience to other motorists, you may say, “dia tu park kereta di tengah tengah dunia”.
‘Bagi nak rak’ is to describe doing something in a most meticulous way. However, using this statement normally comes after your works are in vain as a result of someone’s incompetency. For example, “Yang aku ni bagi nak rak buat kerja, rupanya yang dia tu langsung tak ambek kesah.”
‘Hand gremen’ sounds a little English but it is not English, it means ‘guarantee’. “Besok hand gremen aku datang” is a good example.
‘Mengokol’ is freezing to death. For example, ‘Malam semalam cuaca sejuk betul sampai aku mengokol’ (It was cold last night that I was freezing). Some suggested that ‘kol’ comes from English word ‘cold’.
A sewing machine is ‘enjin’ as a noun but you can use it as a verb. For example “Tolong enjin kan kain ini” (Please sew for me this cloth).
‘Shok’ is not about being shocked, it merely means something you like. For example “Aku shok yang itu” (I like that one). Sometime the word ‘shok’ is replaced by the word ‘shoh’.
‘Pergi round’ is to take a leisure drive or cycling which is very commonly used by Johorians.
While other Malays used the word ‘Shoe’ as ‘Kasut’, Muarians use the word ‘Sepatu’, selimut is ‘gebar’ and almari is ‘gerobok’. So refrigerator is ‘gerobok air batu’.
To polish your shoes is “belakin sepatu”. ‘Belakin’ perhaps derived from the word ‘blacken’.
Of course a motor-car is ‘motokor’.
‘Tombot’ is Town Board. A garbage collector we called ‘orang tombot’.
If you are well built, we will call you ‘sendo’ and ‘baju sendo’ is singlet.
A talkative person who likes to talk to anybody is ‘bigor’ and the female version is ‘phu’a’.
Most Malays use the word ‘bedak’ for talcum powder but Muarians say ‘podo’ which is powder.
A spoon is ‘camca’.
While most Malays use the word ‘saku’ as Wallet, Muarians say ‘paspot’.
A straight road ahead is ‘jalan tegak’.
A policeman is ‘Mat Kampau’. I can’t firgure out how the word kampau came about, maybe those days the Chinese used this to imply a policeman on the take and so Mat come and pau. Sometime a policeman is also known as ‘Mata Mata’ and of course a police detective is ‘Mata Mata Gelap’.
“Rumah Pasong” is actually a cell inside the police station for criminals waiting to be brought to the court. However, most Muarian Malays just refer ‘rumah pasong’ as a Police Station.
Cigarette is ‘Lardos’.
‘Denggri’ is your denim jeans.
‘Rense’ (pronounce rain sir) is equivalent to ‘rimas’. It merely means irritating.
In Muar we don’t use ‘kopiah’, we use ‘Songkok Haji’.
To go on a romancing date with your girlfriend we called it ‘melat’.
‘Zibin’ is ‘liwat’, an immoral sexual act between two males.
Two sweethearts falling for each other is ‘berendut’.
One who likes flirting with the other sex is known as ‘Kacra’ and the one extreme is ‘Kacra Melekus’.
If you are spendthrift we will describe you as ‘kuat jolli’.
Unlicensed taxi is known as ‘Prebet Sapu’ or ‘Pawanchah’.
Sometimes words derived from the English language too were used, for example:
Estimate is ‘Stemet’.
Roll Call is ‘Rokal’ and Local is ‘Lokal’.
Of course you all know what ‘gostan’ is which has been replaced with the word reverse.
‘Koman’ is actually common in English. In this case it is used to describe something which is ‘nothing extraordinary’. “Dia tu koman lah” which is ‘there is nothing great about him.
Quite often a Malay word comes along with its English word of the same meaning. For instance:
Cuba try…Pintu gate…Sepatu Boot…Baju Coat and Topi Cap.
For the pronounce ‘I’ which is ‘saya’ in Malay, Muarians used the word ‘kawan’. For example, “Semalam kawan datang rumah awak” (I came to your house yesterday).
Johorians call their eldest woman sibling as ‘Abang’.
Elderly women going to the toilet will saya, “Kami nak ke sungei”.
Mixed riced is ‘Nasi Campur’ but Muarians called it ‘Nasi Malaya’.
The ‘Baju Melayu’ used by Muarian males (in fact all Johorians) do not have a collar. It is known as ‘Teluk Belanga’. For the trousers, we used a small white cloth called ‘Tongkah’ warpped around the waist along with the trousers and tied with a ‘rope’ made of long thin cloth.
There are many more peculiar words used by Muarians of my time. Maybe some of my readers and in particular my Muarian contemporaries may remember some other words used by Muarians but alien to other Malays. I would certainly appreciate if they could contribute and I will update this article from time to time. It will be good for today’s generation to know some of these peculiar words used by their older generations once upon a time.