Sunday, September 30, 2007

How Do You Pronounce It?

One thing Malaysians would notice when they are overseas, is how drastically different our pronunciation of certain words is compared to the foreigners. If we spend most of our time in Malaysia, I guess we wouldn't even know that we have pronounced it the wrong way all along:

  • Species - We call it "spee-sis", they call it "spee-shees"
  • Waffles - We call it "way-fers", they call it "woa-fers"
  • Samples - We call it "sam-pers", they call it "some-pers"
  • Tartare - We call it "tar-tar", they call it "tar-tare"
For the last one, when I asked for tartare sauce to go with fish and chip the other day, I pronounced it the Malaysian way and got a blank look. To add to my embarrassment, another customer in the line kindly clarified it for me, "Oh, he meant tar-tare sauce!" =.="

Anyway, can you think of more examples of wrong English pronunciation by Malaysians?


day-dreamer said...

I think there are many, but I can't recall any right now.

It's really funny (and sometimes embarrassing) if you pronounce a word wrongly in front of those ang mohs. :D

Ka Lip said...


HOw is waffles pronounced woa-fers? *confused*

Anyway.. I don't think it's so much the pronounciation.. at times it's more the intonations that are the problem i.e. accents. Notice how some people may speak with a slightly different accent depending on who they talk to?

Just as how I find it hard to understand some people even though they are 'pronouncing' it exactly right.

Haha, tar tare sauce.. I put it down to variation..(think toh-may-toh vs toh-maaa-toh..)

hsiu yinn said...


sal-mon (msian) vs sa-mon

I realized that they dropped the 'l'


youngyew said...

day-dreamer, yeah sometimes I have to consciously "switch" my pronunciation to the right version to avoid embarrassment.

Kalip, haha you think the pronunciation of tartare is a matter of variation? Like why-kee-pee-dia versus wee-kee-pee-dia? :D

The "woa" rhymes with "wah", that's the way I hear people pronounce it.

And yeah, I agree with your saying people changing their accent when they talk to different people. You always do that. :D

hsiu yinn: Really? You mean the word "salmon" rhymes with the word "summon"?

Voon Seng said...

not sure how different the pronunciation in the down under is, but, i think our pronunciation is very much 'corrupted' by American English, be it spelling or pronunciation, like tartare is spelled tartar in the states. And yes, people drop the 'l' when the pronounce salmon, so, it sounds more like, say-mon.

Another word that is always mispronounce is 'deposit'. We call it de-po-zit, they call it de-POH-zit. It's not really wrongly pronounced, just that we don't stress the POH enough, and it will sound like 'deficit' to some, as that's how they pronounce 'deficit', without stress on any of the 3 syllabus.

hsiu yinn said...

no not quite, more like 'seh-mon'

its kinda hard to type it out coz u might interpret it differently, but anyway here's a link to what it sounds like, i know its probably american but it is pronounced the same way in australia

youngyew said...

Voon Seng: It's spelled tartar? Is it pronounced as tartar or tar-tare then?

Hsiu Yinn: I see! :)