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26 Malay Words Penang Hokkien Lang Cannot Live Without

They've been part of the Penang Hokkien vocabulary since, well, forever.

Cover image via SAYS

Penang Hokkien is a curious thing. With its rojak mix of Hokkien, Malay, and even English words, the dialect is pretty much a unique language of its own.

Spoken in Penang as well as its neighbouring states in the North e.g. Kedah, Perlis, and Perak, Penang Hokkien is quite different from the Hokkien spoken in the Southern Peninsula (e.g. Melaka and Johor), which mostly resembles Taiwanese Hokkien.

In fact, Penang Hokkien borrows heavily from the Malay language and most of the Malay words we use don't even have a Penang Hokkien equivalent! For example:

1. Roti, pronounced "loti"

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2. Kopi

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Note: The word "coffee" mostly resembles each other across several languages, as derived from the Italian "caffe" and Turkish "kahveh". In Mandarin, "coffee" is known as "ka fei", while Taiwanese Hokkien pronounces it as "kapi".

3. Sabun

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4. Tuala

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5. Jamban

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6. Sampah

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7. Kahwin, pronounced "kaw-in"

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8. Berlian, pronounced "ber-len"

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9. Tolong

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10. Batu

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11. Mata, meaning "police"

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12. Balai, meaning "police station"

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13. Baru, pronounced "balu", meaning "just now" or "newly"

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14. Bangku

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15. Tapi

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16. Pun

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17. Gatal, pronounced "gatai"

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18. Geli

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19. Kesian, pronounced "kesian"

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20. Lampin, pronounced "lam-peng"

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21. Rasa, pronounced "lasa"

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22. Suka

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23. Sayang

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24. Sombong

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25. Tilam

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26. Tongkat

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Do you know of any other Malay words that have been absorbed into Penang Hokkien? Share it with us in the comments section below!

You probably know how to refer to these in Malay... but have you ever wondered what they're called in English?