Malay has two scripts. Originally the language was written in an Arabic based script called Jawi. The second script is a Latin-based script (like English) called Rumi. The Wikipedia entry says that all 26 letters are used but the reality is that they have removed the useless letters. There are no C’s or X’s. This means that computer is komputor, taxi is teksi and ice is ais. Most of it is removing C’s from the language. Possibly so no-one can drop the C-bomb. The also took out the silent letters that linger on French words. Boutique becomes butik. Rumi is now the most common script in Malaysia –no doubt thanks to Empire.
Now, it’s only the nouns that have been introduced recently that get this treatment. If there is an existing Malay word then it’s written in Malay. So, ‘hill’ is ‘bukit’ and ‘no’ is ‘dilarang’. Dilarang, I feel, ended up being a poor choice for ‘no’ because it wastes a lot of space on signs. This absorption of words from other languages is nothing new. English has been doing it since forever. Tagalog in the Philippines does the same thing. Any new word, gets introduced except they tend towards using all the English letters. There is no prejudice against C’s there.
Because there is this mix of English words, shortened English words and native language in a Latin script, Malaysia and the Philippines are somewhere where you can experience having a stroke without having a stroke. I’m not talking about the paralysis down one side but the inability to remember some words.
One example is: "Petrol Berprestasi". You start of reading the sentence and it makes sense right up to Berprestasi and then you’re thinking. Should I know that word? It feels like I should but I can’t remember.
"Chinese-Style friend chicken: believably malutong, believably malinamnam". What does that mean? Did I just have a stroke?