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I've spent three weeks in Malaysia as a vacation and for me the English they speak in there is more or less the same, of course the accent is a bit different but it's like if you compare British with American English. I don't think it will make you confuse.
If you learned American English you mostly will understand English spoken in Malaysia, if the Malaysian is aware that you are a foreigner.
We Malaysians do speak ‘Manglish’ which is Malaysian English. We speak quite fast with lots of ‘additives’ and suffixes. Mainly there are Cantonese/Malay influences in the additions like ‘lah’, ‘mah’, 'ah'... etc.
Would you like to go for lunch?
We would say - You want go for lunch ah?
That cannot be done.
We would say - Cannot mah. (quite a dirrect translation from Cantonese)
'Lah' additions are a whole lot more complex and you might understand more when you are used to listening to Manglish. Anyways, good luck lah!
@Yini,thanks, it sounds quite funny. It seems that what you say is much like Chinese speaking. Quite funny.haha
Yes, yes, yes...Malaysia English is EXTREMELY different than American English and often can not be even understood by native English speakers. I know because I am an American living in Malaysia for a few years. Deep communication is very difficult between native English speakers and most Malaysian English speakers.Most Malaysians learn English from 2nd language learners in school, ( instead of native speakers) so thier spoken and written English is not like a native at all. They call it Manglish and it is definitely a VERY different language than English. This is true with even highly educated people like doctors and lawyers here. Most learn English as their 3rd language as several are needed here for Malaysians. It is usually more of a broken English with an EXTREMELY heavy accent with lots of added "la's" put in randomly and bad grammar. It's a kind of pidgen English. Even when they are talking in English I usually have to help my parents understand what they are saying because I have gotten more use to it. We often have to say "what, what, what" over and over for even simple things and they do not understand us well either. Mangish is NOT English.I think it is always best to learn a language from a native speaker and not someone who is speaking Manglish or other different language. Best to find an English speaker who is native without a strong accent if you want to be understood. Good luck!
@Mozart，thanks for your suggestion.You r so smart.
The English taught in Malaysian schools is British English. Due to influence of American pop culture, the pronunciation has got slightly American and American English vocabulary is generally understood but the British ones are generally preferred (e.g. lorry>truck, bonnet>hood, toilet>restroom). However, in some cases, the American ones are more widely spread (e.g. fries>chips, chips>crisps). There are also words which only exist in Malaysian English (e.g. public phone>payphone, handphone>mobile phone/cell phone).
Manglish is an English-based dialect spoken in Malaysia. It's sort of like street English. It is due to influence of Malay and Mandarin. The grammar is based on Malay and Mandarin with suffixes like lah, mah, meh, leh etc. Manglish is only spoken in daily life between friends, families, colleagues etc. Manglish is not used in schools or in any formal occasion. Manglish slightly varies in different states. Take Penang's Manglish, for instance, it is heavily influenced by Hokkien and is quite similar to Singlish (Singapore's version of street English). I myself speak English as a first language and usually in full British English. I do not speak Manglish unless people can't understand me.
P/S: I'm a Penang native.