Malaysians are unique in the sense that since childhood, emphasis has been put on learning two languages at once, our mother tongue and English. That means we are bi-lingual since young. But being kids, mixing up Malay and English can be confusing. Here are a couple of true stories, as experienced by me to demonstrate this:
Do you know why I wanted to become a doctor? The story goes like this. When I was a kid, before I even went to school, my family thought I wanted to be a fireman, or `ahli bomba’ in Malay, because I told them ‘’Opie nak jadi Bomba (I want to become a Fireman)!’’.
They agreed. However, what I really wanted to be was a ‘bomber’. You know, bomber as in suicide bomber (except for the suicide part). All because I love this video game called 'bomberman' (it was a classic riff , phenomenal back in the 1990s).
Because bomber in English and Bomba in Malay sounds the same, they must have misinterpreted bomber as ‘bomba’ because every time a fire engine passed by, my parents will say “Opie, tengok tu…bomba! Nampak tak? (Opie, look at that fire engine , can you see it?)”… and little me would believe that somewhere inside that long, red vehicle, people armed with dynamites, ready to blow up some bad guys just like in the game ‘Bomberman’.
My parents must be proud thinking that their one and only son aspire to save some lives, courageously putting off fires, sacrificing himself for the sake of strangers. But little did they know, deep inside my mind, I was secretly planning to blast off bad guys into smithereens.
Just like Mr.Bomberman! But sometime later, my parents (still thinking I was interested in becoming a fireman) showed me a fireman cartoon show on TV. I was so excited! Seconds turned into minutes, minutes turned into hours, I waited and waited, but there’s still not a single explosion in sight! The only thing the fireman did (which I thought were real-life Bomberman), was putting of fires.
I thought it was lame. Nothing could compare to my disappointment at that time. The moment the cartoon show ended, I swore I wouldn’t want to be a bomberman anymore.
‘It wasn’t like what I imagined’ I thought. It was like my dreams were taken away from me. All that I worked for, all the times spent playing bomberman, all went to waste. I gasped for air of ideas on what to become when I grew up. Then I saw my father. He’s a doctor. He seems ok. So since that day, I wanted to become a doctor.
When I was a kid, I thought that Kenny Rogers was a lion. Yep, lion as in Lion King. Because in Malay, Singa, which is pronounced singer, means lion. So while we were having dinner at Kenny Rogers, I overheard my parents saying “Kenny Rogers ni dulu 'singer' tau” (Kenny Rogers was a singer, you know ). So, since then, I thought Kenny Rogers was formerly a lion, and somehow transformed into a human being. Miracles happen, I thought...just like in Disney movies , beasts turning into a princes, frogs turning into a princes , it happens all the time, but a lion turning into Kenny Rogers?
by Lutfi Fadil Lokman