Thursday, June 24, 2010
Review Thursday: Malay Sayings By C.C. Brown
By C.C. Brown
Paperback: 287 pages
Publisher: Graham Brash (Pte.) Ltd ,Singapore; New ed of 2 Revised ed edition (September 1, 1989)
Price: RM29 (but that was 4 or 5 years ago!)
One of my passions is understanding language. I am particularly interested in understanding where phrases come from. This is why I bought this book the moment I spotted it in some dusty little book shop in Kuching some 4 or 5 years ago.
Brown was a lecturer in Malay at the University of London, and as you might expect, the information in this book is laid out neatly and cross referenced with academic precision.
It's a very simple book. It lists 1200 expressions in Malay with an English translation. As it's written for English speakers, it starts with:
AN ABSURDITY, (an action or statement that is merely ridiculous)
Mahu-kah orang menghujankan garam-nya?
Is a man going to put his salt out in the rain?
For a different but very inmproabbaly interpretation by WEM see RIDICULOUS.
And then lists more absurd phrases.
I love this book because it says so much about traditional local culture and thinking. However, I have tried to use the odd phrase in conversation with friends and so far I have met just a handful who know these expressions. Malaysians don't read much, so it's hard to find people who really know the language.
It may not be of use in a practical way, but this book is really worth a look.
And as I really can't resist, please check out my book Logomania: Where Common Phrases Come From And How To Use Them. You can buy it online at MPH Malaysia and Times Malaysia, and Kinokuniya too!