By Hadi M. Nor
Pix Credit:
As Malaysians, we have our own slang in speaking and writing English like adding the word ‘-lah’ in our sentences and speaking the ‘Rojak Language’. For example, “Macha, the makan place at your house there, cun ar?” (Possibly the most 1Malaysia sentence ever written.)

It’s okay that we have our own slang like other countries do and speak English in our own mother tongue’s intonations but words, however, must be said correctly.

Pronounciation – Pronunciation (Pro-nun-si-a-syen)
I was watching Akademi Fantasia one day and one of the judges (whom shall not be named) gave a comment on the performer’s pronunciation of words in singing an English song.

“Your pro-NOUN-ciation must be correct.”

Ironic, isn’t it?

Please remember, the word ‘pro-NOUN-ciation’ does not exist. While I’m typing the word in Microsoft Words, a red underline appears, justifying my point. Don’t be confused, the word ‘pronounce’ is correct but its noun is ‘pronunciation’.

Stik – Steak (Steyk)
‘Stik’ is the Bahasa Melayu word for ‘steak’. As I’ve mentioned above, it is okay to use the Rojak language but using this word in an English sentence will confuse people.

Its pronunciation is similar to the English word ‘stick’, which means a long and slender piece of wood. It also means a shoot cut off from a shrub or a tree.  

Pix Credit: 123rf.comStick does not taste like steak.
Wayfle – Waffle (Wuhf-fuhl)
I really appreciate it when someone rectifies my pronunciation. However, someone once corrected my already correct pronunciation. The conversation went like this:

“One waffle, please.”

“You mean ‘way-fle’?”

“Yes, one ‘way-fle’, please.”

I was hungry and I didn’t care what you call that grid-like cake at the time. But, the correct pronunciation is wuff-fuhl. Stress out the letter ‘f’ in the word.
Collownel – Colonel (Kuh-nuhl)
‘Colonel’ is a military rank but this word is more widely used in KFC for its ‘Colonel Menu’. The pronunciation for this word in US English is ‘kur-nuhl’. You might be wondering, where did the first ‘L’ in the word go? Well, it disappeared along with the ‘H’ in the word ‘hour’.

Dye-vorce – Divorce (Dee-vaus)
Hearing people mispronouncing this word is a very rare occasion but I’ve heard it more than once, which means that there are many others out there who are still in the wrong.

It’s easy to be confused with this word’s pronunciation because of other words that pronounced ‘di’ as ‘dye’, for example, ‘dimension’, ‘direction’, ‘dilute’ etc.

Congrates – Congrats (Kawn-grats)
In the novel Zombijaya written by Adib Zaini, there is a part where the main characters deliberately pronounced the word ‘congrats’ as ‘congrates’ as a mock of some local celebrities (whom, unfortunately, shall not be named).

‘Congrats’ is a shorter version of the word ‘congratulations’. A lot of people joked that ‘congrates’ is Socrates’ older brother, which is also a mispronunciation as Socrates is ‘Sok-ratis’ and not ‘sokrets’. Am I the only one who finds this joke hilarious?

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"That's not funny, dude."
Siu – Sew (Soh)
It’s easy to mispronounce the word ‘sew’ as we are accustomed to words spelled almost the same way such as ‘new’ and ‘few’. The correct pronunciation is ‘soh’.

The past tense for this word, which is ‘sewn’, is also commonly mispronounced. Its correct pronunciation is almost like its present tense, which is ‘sown’. However, ‘sown’ is the past tense of the word ‘sow’ that means scattering seeds on Earth. ‘Sown’ and ‘sewn’ have the same pronunciation because English is a funny language.

Filem/Flim – Film (Film)
This is the word that is so commonly mispronounced that people avoid saying it. (Thank God for the word ‘movie’.) The pronunciation of this word requires exercise for the tongue. Just like the word ‘helm’, the letter ‘L’ must be drowned out by the ‘M’.

‘Filem’ is the Bahasa Melayu word for ‘film’ whereas ‘flim’ was possibly invented by a typo. Even though it only has one syllable, but a lot of people still find it difficult to say it properly.

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Hold up, hold up...this is pasta, not the state! Omnomnom!!
Bolockniss/Bolocknize/Bolocguhniss – Bolognese (Baw-law-neze)
Malaysians’ love for food does not stop them from mispronouncing one of the most famous dishes in the world. This word has a distinctive sound to it because it came from the city Bologna, Italy.

Keep in mind that the ‘G’ in the name is silent.
For more words that are commonly mispronounced, click here.