My Indonesian friend came over to visit me from a far away land and this was her 1st visit to Malaysia.
When I took her for a drive around the city, she admitted to me that she got confused with Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) spoken here in Malaysia. I was very surprised when she told me this because I thought she would not have difficulties understanding Bahasa Melayu at all since she comes from Sumatera island. I thought the melayu people in Sumatera speaks the same Bahasa melayu like the Malaysians. So, when she told me that the language is completely different, my eyes were round and my mouth was gagged in disbelieving her explanation.
Her confusion in Malay language started when she was on board of the aircraft on the way to Kuala Lumpur. She said she could not understand what it means when the flight attendant mentioned about telefon bimbit in the airplane. The word sounded so strange to her ears.
I told her that usually telefon bimbit is mentioned together with cakera padat and komputer riba by the flight attendant making the safety announcement on board. "Yes..Yes..that's right!" she said. I informed her that telefon bimbit means cellular phone, cakera padat means compact disk, and komputer riba means laptop. "Whua...ha...ha..." I heard her laughing so loudly and continued "I always thought komputer riba means something bad because 'riba' in Indonesian language means lintah darat (usury - english)." "Whe..he..he.." It's my turn to laugh now... :D
Then I continued, "Yeah...the same one as the word 'budak'. Budak in Malay language means kanak-kanak (children - english) but in Indonesian language means slave."
"Oh gosh! It's better to speak English then and just understand the English version because even though I do understand bahasa melayu, some of the words means completely different from words I understand." my friend concluded.
"Yes, that's right. But when you stay in Malaysia long enough, you'll learn to speak like the Malaysians and you'll grow to understand the differences of the 2 languages." I told her.
Then when I was about to turn into a one way road, my friend read a sign board that says, "Jalan sehala". She started her inquest about the difference in Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Melayu again. "What's that 'Jalan sehala'? I don't remember bahasa Indonesia has that word." She said. I smiled at her. While continued driving I explained to her that 'jalan sehala' means 'one way road' or 'jalan satu arah' in bahasa Indonesia.
Then I heard her saying, "Kalau gitu, jalan dua arah bahasa melayunya jalan 2 hala?" (That means, 2-way road in malay language is jalan 2 hala?)
"Yeap. That's right.", I nodded.
Then I drove into a tunnel. In front of a tunnel there is a sign board that mentioned about the height limit of vehicles that can pass through the tunnel. My friend asked me again, "What is 'had'?"
"It means 'limit' or 'batas' in bahasa Indonesia.", I answered. "Oh...I see..", she said.
"Geez!! I never expected that Malay language is a lot different compared to Indonesian language.", my friend told me.
"Well, I thought at first you would easily understand the Malay language because you come from Sumatera where all the malay-Indonesian live.", I said.
"Yah...but we have our own malay-Indonesian language which is different. Each area has its own local dialect, such as the people in Medan speak different dialect compared to people in Padang and Palembang or Riau.", she explained to me.
"Yes. I agree.", I understand her explanation.
"Luckily, I have you to help me translating the Malaysian language to me. Otherwise, I would misunderstand everything and get more confused with these strange words that sound funny to my ears. By the way, you already have that Malay accent! You don't speak like a Javanese anymore!", my friend told me.
"Wha...ha..ha..Thanks mate!", I blushed... :D
I was glad that another person has proved it that Malay language is not the same as Indonesian language and admitted that it's better to use English to avoid misunderstanding since most Malaysians understand English while at the same time trying to understand the Malay language in Malaysian way, not the Indonesian way... :)
Just yesterday, I found another Malay words that sound so strange and funny to my Indonesian ears. The word is 'telor mata kerbau'. If I translate these words one by one:
telor (egg - english) - telur (Indonesia)
mata (eye - english) - mata (Indonesia)
kerbau (buffalo - english) - kerbau (Indonesia)
But the whole words actually mean sunny side-up egg. In bahasa Indonesia, we also have nearly similar expression, but we use 'cow' instead of 'buffalo', so sunny side-up in bahasa Indonesia is telur mata sapi...;)
I wonder what my friend would say about this...he..he..he..