browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

Taking Small Steps

Posted by on 25 March 2010
Books in Bahasa Melayu (or BM, for short)

Books in Bahasa Melayu (or BM, for short)

Knowing how my children need to improve their Malay, I’ve been taking small steps lately to help them build up their vocabulary.

Like this morning, for instance. I turned on the radio, picking out a talk show in Malay. Then I highlighted certain words to them.

Banduan,” I said. “Do you know what that means?”

Blank stares.

“It means ‘prisoner’,” I explained. “Banduan is different from panduan. Banduan is ‘prisoner’, panduan means ‘guide’.”

Silence. (DH is overseas, so I was the one driving. With me driving, I couldn’t see their faces to figure out what the silence meant.)

Then I heard the voice on the radio mention the word bekas.

I nudged RoundBoy,”Do you know bekas?”

He nodded. But I knew that the bekas that he knows (bekas = container) is different from the bekas that the radio announcer was talking about.

“I don’t mean bekas, as in bekas where you can put in your food or drink,” I clarified.

I then explained that if you take a noun and placed bekas in front of it, the meaning of bekas becomes ‘ex’, as in bekas pelajar = ex-student.

The opposite of bekas, I continued, is bakal which, when placed in front of a noun, means ‘future’, e.g. bakal suami = ‘future husband’.

And so concluded our Malay language lesson for this morning. They may be small steps but as an old Malay saying goes, “Sikit-sikit, lama-lama, jadi bukit.” (Literally: ‘Little by little, over time, becomes a mountain’. You get the drift.)

Talk about irony — the Filipina mother teaching her Malaysian children Bahasa Melayu!

12 Responses to Taking Small Steps

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *