Saturday, February 24, 2007

Man It's Hot Lah

If you have spent anytime in Malaysia, or around Malaysians, you will have heard the expression "lah" used as a sort of punctuation point. I first heard the expression when I was a graduate student in Indiana. Malaysian students would go around saying: "What's up lah?" or "Hey let's get going lah!."

I was walking around in Malaka (Malaysia) in mid-December 2006 when I came across this sign below.

I love the expression. It brings a melodic quality to communicating in English. It also extends a neo-colonial imprint over English.

I heard folks in Singapore use "lah" as well. In Malaysia and Singapore the expression was used by Malays, Chinese, and Indians. To "lah" is multicultural. So it seems "ek se" (I say).

"Ek se" is the closest we come to "lah" in South Africa. It is used by the apartheid generation. And it is definately not a white thing but a 'people of color' thang. You may hear folks say: "It's hot today ek se!"

Now I may be dating myself somewhat here. I say this because the younger set seem more hip-hop in expressions than my geezer generation. No-less lah, hip-hop is really an African American thing ek se. Just jiving my broer (brutha), hip-hop is universal hey. Right?

Just ask Julian Brizi who admits being "uncomfortable around black people" but is still true-blue to hip-hop like his "Wanksta Wigger" hero pictured here.

Ok so I'm not hating on hip hop. I still sorta dig (yeah I said dig) Dead Prez even now that they front being "gangsta" for Sony and Columbia or "fake fake fake records."

Guess you can't have it all and still be radical ... you know the white kids gots to buy your stuff ... cause "It's Bigger than Hip Hop" ... or maybe not.

But back to sinage I saw in Malaka. This very good advice sign below was next to the "Lah" one above.

Then this one on a door.

I walked through the door to find a load of anti-Bush tee shirts by local artists. Sadly none in XL ... dammit. And it is not like Malaysia does not have the four major food groups (McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza hut, and KFC).

In fact the pace of building new fast food places seemed quite frenetic. In the picture below they were thanking patrons even while under construction.

Hmmmmm .... I wonder if Anglela boo boo in Portland is free for some artery clogging murder? Just kidding me sista ... how about some vegetarian tacos? ;0)

Damn, I am having a hard time thinking on one track here.

You know I tried to find some of my roots in Malaysia. In Malaka I came the closest. And I took a picture for the folks back home.

So visit Malaysia ya'all ... "it rocks dude." ;0)

It has been 50 years since independence (Merdeka Day) when Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj (below) sent the British home for good!

Ok, so "Man it's Hot Lah" in Kimberley today (Saturday). By 10am we had already hit 90 degrees plus. And it is supposed to get even hotter ... 100 degrees plus.

Wonder what the weather is doing in Tony Blair's pants ek se ... ;0)


GiGi - The Shy Giraffe : said...

hello ridwan,

came across your blog while surfing... put a smile on my face-lah when i read your comments regarding your trips to malaysia and singapore...

glad to know you enjoying yourself.


Ridwan Laher said...

Hey Gigi ... thanks a ton-lah. I am sooo happy to hear you smiled while reading my post ek se (I say).

I am going to look in on your site and hope you will be back here too-lah.

Be well.

Faridah said...

How come I never encountered those interesting signs you did? You lucky person, you! :)

The sign "to lah or not to lah..that is the question in Malaysia now" is not only of linguistic interest but it's political! The current Prime Minister is often referred to as "Lah" (shortened from Abdullah).There are two camps (as always in Malaysian politics): one is for Lah.The other, trying hard to topple him.Hence, the question: to lah or not to lah.I think it's so cute!!! There's open resistance in Melaka?

Ridwan Laher said...

Prof Farida thanks for adding this dimension. It makes sense now ... I did not know.

Now it seems so much more complex to me ... well the political scientist in me ;0)

I hope you are enjoying your Fulbright ... I saw the pictures of the snow ... oh how are you coping?

Be well Prof.


ps. I really miss Malaysia ... a lot !!!

Faridah said...

Ithaca is getting warmer now and I have started to smile again. :)
I still miss my Malaysian malls and monorails and LRTs and commuter trains that'd bring you right to the doorstep of your favourite mall (oh KLCC! KLCC!)

But Cornell is an experience I need.Will be visiting UPENN and Harvard too in months to come.One thing I've learnt: smart alecks are NOT afraid to be seen as fools.I've heard all sorts of theories here.Some I just wanna laugh at.Others really made me think.

Tell me how you missed the family in Melaka? They waited for you for 2 hours at the bus station.:(

Ridwan Laher said...

Prof I am saddened to hear that they waited for me. I looked around for them and checked the parking lot for a red Volvo.

After quite some time I started to think that it was a little presumptious of me to call.

I decided that it was best to move on ... I am sorry that it went down so badly.

I will write to your email for their address and write to say sorry.

Thanks for catching me up with your doings.

I can relate to what you are experiencing. US academics can be a little much ... all that ego ... all that unbent assuredness.

Be well up there.