Hang Nak Main Apa?

A jukebox

I’m sure you know how some people have the uncanny ability to converse in different dialects. Normally, they would be dialects other than their own. Some people would just try to mimic sounds, or guess how certain words would be spoken in certain dialects, and then get themselves in an imbroglio.

For example, Kelantanese (people from the state of Kelantan) have this linguistic rule that words ending in a _ang, or, _am, or _an, that ending syllable is to be pronounced as _ae (rhymes with the English ‘care‘). So an imbroglio one would get one’s self into would be going to a market buying a mango (which is Mempelam, or Pelam, in official Malay, but in Kelantan is refered to as Buah Pauh). Example:

Foreign Man: “Mek, demo jua buoh pelae dok?” (Miss, do you sell any testicles?)

Fruitseller: “Buoh pelae? Buoh pelae ado celoh kakae demo!” (Testicles? You can find testicles in between your legs!)

One can only imagine the kind of predicament one could get into.

Back in the late 1980’s when I was stationed on the island of Penang, I used to frequent the trunk road to get to and from Kuala Lumpur. Those were the days when the North-South highway was only between Seremban and Sungai Besi on the southern side, and Jelapang to Changkat Jering on the northern side. There were various roadside restaurants along the way where express buses would stop for coffee breaks and what-nots. And the ones found in Perak would have a jukebox in them.

On one of the trips, a colleague, who was a senior in the Air Force than I was, was travelling with me. We were on our way back to Penang and had stopped just after the junction to Taiping, having exited earlier at the Changkat Jering toll plaza. In that area of Perak, people spoke in the northern dialect, similar to the ones spoken in Penang, Kedah and Perlis; where the syllable that ends with an ‘r’, sounds like it ends with a deep ‘q’. And this friend of mine would have a nimiety of weird northern words peculiar only to him. He saw this fair (and cute) maiden who was the cashier – and next to her was the jukebox. Trying to impress her, he spoke loudly to me:

“Mat, bak mai dua kupang! Aku nak main juboq!” (Mat, can you give me 20 sen? I want to play the anus!)

And I am sure he could feel the malevolent gaze that came from the girl as he walked away from the jukebox, finally realising what it actually meant.

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