Learning languages can be a wonderful experience, especially when you realise how similar some words are with regards to their sounds. These words are often called ‘false friends‘, and using them out of the context of the language could land you in a mind-numbing situation.
Here I use primarily the Malay Cyrillic alphabet to transcribe the Malay language examples instead of the regular conventional Latin alphabet official in Malaysia. To find out how to read it and revert it back to Latin I suggest reading the whole series about the Malay Cyrillic alphabet.
Addendum: Due to hindsight, I decided to add one more word here, but be warned that in Russian, it is a swear word. If you will be offended by this, please skip reading the last subsection of the post for the last word. The word in English is censored, but the word in Russian isn’t.
Я – Yes and I!
Так – No and Yes!
Так means ‘No’ in informal Malay (it’s a shortened form of тидак, tidak), but in both Ukrainian and Belarusian, так means ‘Yes’!
Да(ҳ)- Yes and Yes!
The word даҳ would have the same function as Russian yes: да! They are already have the same function as an affirmative and they are almost similar in spelling and pronunciation (only dah has a slight h sound at the end, prolonging the vowel ‘uh’).
Сука – Like/Love and B****!
This is the word I find the most ironic and hilarious. It has totally opposite meanings in totally different contexts!
Сука (suka) in Malay (and Indonesian) mean ‘like’ or even ‘love’ depending of the degree of attachment to the thing being ‘liked’. It’s what you would say to someone you have romantic feelings for, especially for the first time. ❤
In Russian however, it is known as a word to describe a female dog. Like its English counterpart, the word is usually used as an insult, usually used to express great anger and annoyance at someone else. (I am trying to be very polite here, for the sake of children).
This homophone reminded me of a funny story my friend told me in my old school IISM.
This particular friend of mine hailed from Uzbekistan, and like most of his fellow countrymen, he spoke fluent Russian. He takes Malay classes in school. One day, his Malay teacher kept repeating “Saidahmad [my friend’s name] suka!” many times in class, for no apparent reason. In Malay, that would mean “Saidahmad likes (it)!” but in Russian, it means… you could probably guess it. It’s no surprise that he became annoyed, but not overly offended by it (since in Malay the meaning is different).
I suspect that his Malay teacher may have known the meaning of the word in Russian in the first place, and knowing that my friend is a Russian-speaker, he did that to make it a ‘joke’ of some sort in class. Perhaps this is why, but then, I was never there when it happened. I laughed quite a bit when he told me this story.
A love confession in Malay might go like this: