Monday, January 31, 2011

Idiom: Pesei enda telam lalu


Peséi enda bei telam lalu

pronounciation: pe-séy en-da bey te-lam la-lu
literally means: No fish eats the bait
Malay: TIada ikan makan umpan or Umpan tidak mengena

Actual meaning: attempts to attract (woo) someone failed.

Malay: percubaan untuk memikat (mengurat) tidak menjadi

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Idiom: Simei Ngau

Hidden Cat

simei Ngau

pronounciation: si-mey Ngaw
Dialekt: Melanau Rajang
literally means: shy like a cat
Malay: malu-malu kucing

Actual meaning: to be a very shy person

Malay: seorang yang pemalu

Laei-a: Mun enda ji tibah akou

good advice

Mun enda ji tibah akou

pronounciation: Mun en-da ji ti-bah a-kou
literally means: if he/she were not being summoned by me
Malay: Kalau tidak saya panggil

Actual meaning: if you are not listening to my advice,you will be in trouble

Malay: Jika tidak mendengar nasihat saya, kamu akan menerima padah


This expression is commonly used by a mother to her children.


Mun enda ji tibah akou tuneh, ngak pededug jahak kretak kaau tuneh.
If you were not listening to me earlier, you will hit by a car.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Anatomy Special Series Pt 8-8 The Abdomen (Pait)


Original Photo: xxrobot

The abdomen is called Pait in Melanau Mukah. Pait also means Stomach Perut, Magen.

Melanau English Malay Deutsch
Pait Abdomen, Stomach Abdomen, Perut der Bauchraum, der Magen
Betuong Waist Pinggang die Taille
Pused Belly button Pusat der Nabel
Tuleang Id Thigh bone Tulang paha der Oberschenkelknochen
Guem Groin Kelangkang die Leistegegend

Anatomy Special Series Pt 7-8 The Neck (Tengok)


Original Photo: rachel a. k.
The Neck is called Tengok (pron: Te-Ngo'). It is not to be misunderstood as Tengok pronounced Té-Ngo' ( Malay: to watch). The throat is Ingouk.

Melanau English Malay Deutsch
Tengok Neck Leher der Nacken
Kapei Bahu Shoulder die Schulter
Breguong Tulang Selangka Collar bone das Schlüsselbein
Usuok Chest Dada die Brust
Tuleang Nyaheang Rib Tulang rusuk die Rippe
Buak Lakum Adam's Apple Halkum der Adamsapfel

Anatomy Special Series Pt 6-8 The Mouth (Bebak)


This post is about the parts of mouth in Melanau Mukah.

Melanau English Malay Deutsch
Bebak Mouth Mulut der Mund
Mujun Lips Bibir die Lippe
Nyipen Teeth Gigi die Zähne
Nyip Gums Gusi das Zahnfleisch
Jelak Tongue Lidah die Zunge
Tengad Throat Tekak die Kehle
Bahud Larynx Peti Suara der Kehlkopf
Kalaq-kalaq Uvula Anak Tekak das Gaumenzäpfchen
Lelangit Palate Lelangit der Gaumen

Anatomy Special Series Pt 5-8 The Head (Ulou)


Original Photo: JeremyMP

In this post we are going to learn about the names of part on the face in Melanau mukah.
The Face is called Jawai and the head is Ulou.

Important notes:
The mouth is called Bebak
and the lips are called Mujun .
These two words are always misused :)
Melanau English Malay Deutsch
Bebak Mouth Mulut der Mund
Jawai Face Muka der Gesicht
Mujun Lips Bibir die Lippe
Ulou Head Kepala der Kopft
Nyipen Teeth Gigi die Zähne
Jelak Tongue Lidah die Zunge
Gam Chin Dagu das Kinn
Gumei Moustache Misai der Schnurrbart
Buak Lakum Adam's Apple Halkum der Adamsapfel
Bibeh Corner of the mouth Tepi Mulut die Mundwinkel
Uduong Nose Hidung die Nase
Pipei Cheek Pipi die Wanger
Linga Ear Telinga das Ohr
Bulou Ingaih Sideburns Bauk die Koteletten
Buok Hair Rambut die Haare
Beleang Forehead Dahi die Stirn
Bulou Likau Eyebrow Kening die Augenbraue
Mata Eye Mata die Augen
Bulou Mata Eyelash Bulu mata die Wimper
Bulou Rumak Hairline Garisan Rambut der Haaransatz

Anatomy Special Series Pt 4-8 The Back of the body (Buta biyaih)

Buta biyaih

Original Photo: evic peacock

In this post we are going to learn about the names of part of the back region in Melanau mukah.
The back region is called Buta Biyaih.

Melanau English Malay Deutsch
Kapei Mudak Shoulder Blade Tulang Belikat das Schulterblatt
Sikou Elbow Siku das Ellbogengelenk
Betuong Waist Pinggang die Taille
Pupoh Buttscheeks Punggung das Gesäß
Sei Jeloh Calf Betis die Wade
Tug Heel Tumit die Ferse
Betaked Knee pit Pelipatan die Kneekehle
Beteh Thigh Paha der Oberschenkel
Kubin Tailbone Tulang tongkeng. das Steißbein
Awieak Arm pit Ketiak die Achsel
Kapei Shoulder Bahu die Schulter

Anatomy Special Series Pt 3-8 The Leg (Buduek)


Today we are going to learn about the names of part of the leg region in Melanau mukah.

The Leg is called Buduek. It it is always misunderstood as the foot. To my knowledge. in Melanau Mukah, the foot have no special name but the upper region of the foot is called Bau buduek ( lit. means above leg) and the lower region of the foot is called tap buduek ( lit. means base of the leg).

Hence when ones hurt his foot usually the region where it hurts will be mentioned.

Pedéh tap buduek kou- My sole hurts
Pedéh bau buduek kou- My foot hurts ( upper region of the foot)

Parts of the Leg in Melanau Mukah

Melanau Malay English Deutsch
Buduok Kaki Leg das Bein
Bau Buduok - upper of foot -
Tap Buduok Telapak kaki Sole die Fußsohle
Tujok Buduok Jari kaki Toes die Zehen
Buak Bawun Buku lali Ankel der Knöchel
Tug Tumit Heel die Ferse
Wud Keting Shin die Schienbeine
Sei Jeloh Betis Calf die Wade
Bukou Lutut Knee die Knie
Betaked Pelipatan lutut Knee pit die Kneekehle
Beteh Paha Thigh der Oberschenkel

Anatomy Special Series Pt 2-8 Parts of Arm in Melanau ( Pa'a)


Original Photo: ~Victoria Gracia~

Today we are going to learn about parts of arm in melanau mukah dialect. The Arm is the upper limb of human body.

In Melanau mukah the arm is called Paa. The hand is called Nyagem which also can be translated as fist. The word Paa is always being confused as hand, which is actualy called Nyagem

The Palm (Malay: Telapak Tangan ) however is called Tap Paa   instead of Tap Nyagem

Many young generations of Melanau are confused with this term. They refer the arm as Lengen as in Malay Lengan and the hand as Paa. This post will try to clarified this confusion :)

List of parts of arm in Melanau mukah.

Melanau Malay English Deutsch
Paa Lengan Arm der Arm
Nyagem Tangan Hand die Hand
Tap Paa Telapak Tangan Palm die Handfläche
Ligok Pergelangan Tangan Wrist das Handgelenk
Sikou Siku Elbow das Ellbogengelenk
Awieak Ketiak Armpit die Achsel
Kapei Bahu Shoulder die Schulter
Breguong Tulang Selangka Collar bone das Schlüsselbein
Silou kuku nail der Nagel
Tujok Jari finger der Finger

Anatomy Special Series pt 1-8 Names of finger in Melanau


Original Photo:
Ngadan Tujok gak Nyagem  - Names of finger of the hand

MelanauEnglish Malay German
Tujok PouThumb Ibu jari die Daumen
Tujok IjukIndex finger Jari telunjuk Zeigerfinger
Tujok DagenMiddle finger Jari Hantu Mittlefinger
Tujok IsieangRing finger Jari Manis Ringfinger
Tujok IngehPinky Jari Kelingking kleiner Finger

Anatomy Special Series Pt 0-8 Anatomy special 8 Parts series in melanau mukah

When you were a young child, it's possible that among the first words taught to you (as opposed to the words you picked up naturally) were the names of the parts of your body. Those words aren't likely the first words you'll need to learn in Melanau, but they're often indispensable.

Today we would like to introduce a series of post that will concentrate on the names of the parts of your body. This series will be called Anatomy Special Series.

Anatomy Special Series

This series will dicuss about the names of the parts of your body. In each new post you can answer a series of Questions that will test your vocabulary. By making connections between words and ideas, and between words and pictures, this exercise build your vocabulary skills. Start discovering name of body parts in melanau. Enjoy and happy learning!!!

Start learning the names of the parts of your body today by clicking here:

Anatomy Special Series Part 1/8 : Names of Finger in melanau.

Anatomy Special Series Part 2/8 : Parts of Arm in Melanau (Pa'a).

Anatomy Special Series Part 3/8: The Leg ( Buduek)

Anatomy Special Series Part 4/8: The back of the body ( Buta Biyaih)

Anatomy Special Series Part 5/8: The Head (Ulou)

Anatomy Special Series Part 6/8: The Mouth (Bebak)

Anatomy Special Series Part 7/8: The Neck (Tengok)

Anatomy Special Series Part 8/8: The Abdomen ( Pa'id)

Why Melanau use Bin and Binti in their names

Awek Lun Bawang

The Melanaus are mostly :
1. Muslim
2. Christian
3. Pagan

Traditionally malay muslim have a 'Bin' (son of) and 'Binti' (daughter of) in their names. Hence from the name alone one can guess that the person is a muslim. However all the Melanaus have a 'Bin' (son of) and 'Binti' (daughter of) in their names similar to the Malays regardless of their religion.

There are 2 theories why this has happened:

The Melanau Calendar

Wearing Ipok Balau (Sago Spirit) Mask during Kaul Festival (Melanau New Year)

 The Melanau used a lunar-based calendar where Bulan Pengejin, the first month of the year starts in March. During this month, the Melanau celebrate the Kawul (Kaul) Festival, which constitutes both a thanksgiving for a bountiful year past and a prayer for a bountiful year ahead.

The Melanau calendar comprises 12 months, each month consisting of 30 days. The Melanau calendar is guided by the constellations and the way of nature, as is that of their guardian spirits (‘gods’).

Each month is named after the occurrences during the specific month or after events that is supposed to have occurred during that particular month according to legend. The rise and fall of the sun, the moon and the stars determines their time for planting and harvesting, fishing and building as well as other movements, such as travel, marriages and the like.

The Melanau Calendar ( Bulan Melanau) serves as an important guide for daily activities of livelihood such as fishing, planting, harvesting, house construction and marriage because the calendar is guided by the constellations and the way of nature, the spirits and god. The First month begins in March. Each month consists of 30 days. The names of the Month are as follows:

Melanau Month
March Pengejin ( The Month of the Spirits)
April Pengelawah Umik (The Month of the Lesser Clear Water)
May Pengelawah Ayeng (The month of the Greater Clear Water)
June Paka Umik (The Month of the Rise of the Lesser Stars)
July Paka Ayeng (The Month of the Rise of the Greater Stars)
August Pelepa’ (Month of Plentiful)
September Pegalan (Month of the North Star)
October Suwah (The Month of the Waves)
November Pidai (The Month of the Discoloured Skies)
December Penangaih (The Month of Revival)
January Pemalei (The Month of Taboo)
February Pengesiseng (The Month of the Gills)
Read more about Bulan Melanau here

Melanau philosophy of Life

Melanau tallhouse at Sarawak Cultural Village near Kuching, Sarawak (Malaysia)

While the Melanau have mostly converted to Islam and Christianity, their view of the world and action still have strong influence from their ancient religion. In fact the christian and muslim melanaus are very similiar in conducting their daily life and developing unique understanding about the world around them.

Jimalang Tanak- an earth Spirit

Jimalang Tanak- Image: The Trustees of The British Museum & Paul Beavitt

The Melanau believe that we are living alongside with many spirits. Each of the spirits have their proper place and territories and these must be respected. In general these spirits remain in their territories, but it is believed that they sometimes seek human company if possible, particularly to feed off human blood.

Melanau New Year

The seraheng - offering basked
Image by abbybiha: Seraheing- Offering Basket during Kaul festival.
New Year and the Month of Taboo

January 1st is the start or advent of a new year for those people who follow the Gregorian calendar. It marks the end of one year and the start of the next year and is the day on which the year count is incremented.

Aristocratic Numbers

numbering mechanism

The aristocratic Melanau ( a-nyat) have their own set of language to show their rank. This is almost a forgotten language and not many research about it can be found.

Here are set of aristocratic numbers in melanau:

English Arisocratic Numbers Common Numbers
one jei ja
two jerunei dua
three telamong telew
four besei pat
five tuka' lima
six nawa' nem
seven kuten tujuk
eight dulen ayan
nine pulu' ulan
ten plu'en plu'en

If any readers have any information about the aristocratic numbers please leave a comment under this post. Thanks

source johan1960

Lesson 5: Expressing Feelings

Gingerbread Felt Play Cookies

You will come to discover that, in life, for every situation that you may find yourself in, expressing what you feel can be so relieving. In this lesson you will learn about expressing feelings in Melanau Mukah dialect.

Feeling ( Naseng, Rasa )

Angry Melalaih
Scare, Fear Mengeang
shy Miak
Happy Manah
Sad, Troubled Susah Naseng
Shocked Apuk Jawai
Like Suka
Love, to miss someone/something Berahi
Surprise Kelejet

In melanau, there are 2 ways to express ones feeling.

1: Use special verb:

to be shy- miyak
I am shy to...- Akou miak bak+ action verb
eg. Akou miak bak makau adep- I am shy to walk alone.

I am shy around.. - Akou miak gak + noun
eg. Akou miak gak a mahou- I am shy around girls.
AKou miak gak siyen- I am shy around him.
Dont be shy- Kak miak.

to be angry- melalaih
I am angry about..- Akou melalaih buyak...
eg. AKou melalaih buyak duit tanak yen- I am angry about the land settlement.
I am angry at...- Akou melalaih gak+noun...
Stop being angry - Kak melalaih un. kak means "do not" and un means "only".

to be scared (of)- mengeang
I am scared of...- Akou mengeang gak...
Do not be scared (of...) - Kak mengeang (gak+ noun), (bak+ action Noun).
- Do not be scared of him- kak mengeang gak siyen
- Do not be scared of walking alone- kak mengeang bak makau adep. makau means walking adep means alone.

What do you afraid of?- Inou bak kenengeang nou?
- bak kenengeang is the passive form of mengeang.

to like- suka
I like...- Akou suka...
eg. I like to eat rice- Akou suka keman nasek

Thats the way I like it- Tan nyen senuka kou. senuka is the passive form of suka.
What do you like?- Inou wak senuka nou?
Whom do you like?- Sai wak senuka nou?

to love- berahi
I would love to...- Akou berahi bak+action verb
eg. I would love to eat here- Akou berahi bak keman gitou.

to fall in love with..- berahi gak+noun
eg. I fall in love with her..- Ajou berahi gak siyen.

berahi also means:

to miss someone
eg. I miss my mother- akou berahi gak tina kou
I miss speaking with my mother- akou berahi bak telabau jahak tina kou

theoretically berahi can be used to say: I love you or I fall in love with you.
eg. I love you- akou berahi gak nou.
But nowadays most people prefer to use the verb suka.
(eg. Akou suka kaau ) because berahi means lust in malay and it may sound inappropiate.

2. Using the the verb "to feel"

to feel- tan rasa

This sentence structure must be used in order to use this verb:
the feeling + tan rasa + subject.
Mengeang tan rasa kou- I feel scared.
Melalaih tan rasa Maya-Maya feels angry
Miak tan rasa kou- I feel shy
Manah tan rasa siyen- He feels happy
susah naseng tan rasa mak ayeng- Grandmother feels sad/ troubled.
kelejet tan rasa kou- I feel surprised.

How do you feel ?- Betan tan rasa nou?

Lesson 4: Days and Dates in Melanau


In Melanau days are being expressed in numeral except Sunday. ei. Monday = Lau satu (lit. Day one). Here the word satu ( malay for one) is being used instead of the word ja. This is one of the influence of malay language in melanau. Theoreticaly Lau Ja can be used but very rare.

English Melanau
Monday Lau Satu
Tuesday Lau Dua
Wednesday Lau Telou
Thursday Lau Pat
Friday Lau Lima
Saturday Lau Nem
Sunday Lau Minggu

Useful Words
Day Lau
Today Lau itou
Tomorrow Semuneh
Yesterday Mabei
the day after tomorrow Silih semuneh
2 days ago silih mabei
morning suap
noon dagen lau
evening abei
night malem
midnight dagen malem
dawn badek


Months are also being expressed in numerals like days of the week.
Note: sepuluh is malay word for ten.

English Melanau
Januari Bulan Satu
February Bulan Dua
March Bulan Telou
April Bulan Pat
May Bulan Lima
Jun Bulan Nem
July Bulan Tujuk
August Bulan Ayan
September Bulan Ulan
October Bulan Sepuluh
November Bulan Ja belaih
Decembre Bulan Duwa belaih

To tell the date follow this construction:
date (numeral) + lau bulan + month + ta-un + year
eg: 25th decembre 2010
Duwa poluk lima lau bulan duwa belaih ta-un duwa ribu plu-en

Useful Words
Year Taun
Week Minggu
Month Bulan
Day Lau
next month Bulan mudei
last month Bulan siieng
this month Bulan itou
next week Minggu mudei
last week Minggu siieng
this week Minggu itou
When Paya
too late tayi angai
too short jujok angai

Lesson 1: Greetings


Here we are going to learn about exchanging conversation in melanau mukah

How are you? - Inou dengah nou?
I'm fine- Akou diak un.
I'm not feeling well- Enda diak angai tan rasa kou.

What is your name?- Sai ngadan nou?
My name is... , - Ngadan kaw...

Who is your friend?- Sai sakai nou?

Whoose son/ daughter is that?- Aneok sai itou?

This is my friend. His/Her name is- Itou sakai kou. Ngadan siyen..

Oh, I didn't notice you- An ji, enda kelalak kou gak nou?

It's has been a long time sicne we met- Paut ngak tua enda petemu.

Where are you going?- Menaan kaau?
I just came from..- Akou japan un tapak keman...
I am going to...- Akou bak mapun ....

Where do you come from?- Kaau tapak menaan?
I come from...- Akou tapak keman...

Where do you live?- Takan gan diem nou?
I live at.. - Akou diem gak...
I am living with..- Akou diem jahak..
I am renting a ...- Akou menyiwak...

What are you doing right now?- Inou sibet nou itou selau?
I am working at..- Akou kreja gak..
I am studying at..- Akou belajer gak...
I am still hunting for job- Agei pinyeang kreja.

I need to go now.- Akou makau siieang.

Sorry. I am in a hurry.- Ma-ep eh. Akou bak legah itou.

Lesson 3 Numbers in Melanau

Number Dial Photography

Counting in Melanau is as easy as one, two, three. Both the English and Melanau languages use the same symbols to represent numbers, e.g. 1, 2, 3, etc.; however, the two differ in how the numbers are pronounced.

Fortunately, you really only need to learn a small handful of words to be fluent at counting. You should push yourself to learn to do math in you head using Melanau words instead of English words.

English Melanau
Zero Kusuong
One Ja
Two Dua
Three Telou
Four Pat
Five Lima
Six Nem
Seven Tujuk
Eight Ayan
Nine Ulan
Ten Plu-en

Construction of number after 10 is rather simple. From 11 till 19 you just need to add the prefix belaih. This is similar to english teen.

2nd digit + belaih
11, in Melanau ja belaih.
12, in Melanau dua belaih.
18, in Melanau ayan belaih
19, in Melanau ulan belaih

English Melanau
Eleven Ja Belaih
Twele Dua Belaih
Thirdteen Telou Belaih
Fourteen Pat Belaih
Fifhteen Lima Belaih
Sixteen Nem Belaih
Seventeen Tujuk Belaih
Eighteen Ayan Belaih
Nineteen Ulan Belaih

To construct number from 20 till 99 you just need to add pulok.

1st digit number + pulok + 2nd digit number ( if zero omit the 2nd digit)
23, in Melanau dua pulok telou
20, in Melanau dua pulok and NOT dua pulok kusuong!!

English Melanau
Twenty Dua pulok ( zero is not included)
Thirty Telou pulok
Fourty Pat pulok
Fifty Lima pulok
Sixty Nem pulok
Seventy Tujuk pulok
Eighty Ayan pulok
Ninety Ulan pulok
Twenty one Dua pulok ja
Sixty nine Nem pulok ulan

To construct number from 100 till 999 you just need to add ratuih.

1st digit + ratuih + 2nd digit ( if zero omit the 2nd digit)+ pulok (if zero this will be omitted) + 3rd digit ( if zero omit the 3rd digit)

123, in Melanau Ja ratuih dua pulok telou
113, in melanau Ja ratuih telou belaih NOT Ja ratuih ja pulok telou!!!
120, in Melanau Ja ratuih dua pulok
100, in Melanau Ja ratuih

To construct number from 999 till 1000 you just need to add ribu.

1st digit + ribu + 2nd digit ( if zero omit the 2nd digit)+ ratuih (if zero this will be omitted) + 3rd digit ( if zero omit the 3rd digit)+pulok ( if zero this will be omitted)+ 4th digit( if zero omit the 4th digit)
1234, in Melanau Ja ribu dua ratuih telou pulok pat
1211, in Melanau Ja ribu dua ratuih ja belaih NOT Ja ribu dua ratuih ja pulok ja!!!
1023, in Melanau Ja ribu dua pulok telou
1003, in Melanau Ja ribu telou
1000, in Melanau Ja ribu

Mathematical Operations:

+ : tambah
- : tuleq
/ : bagi
x : kali
= : jadi

2+3=5 ; dua tambah telou jadi lima
2 x 5=10; dua kali lima jadi pluen

Image Above: Matt Banks /

Lesson 2: Direction and Position

One of the most important things to know is how to ask for directions. You don't want to end up lost with no way of getting help. Learn a few key phrases and you'll be able to find your way around with no problems.

Here are list of vocabularies and phrases about directions and positions.

Where is..?.- Gak gan..?
Where is the bus stop?
Gak gan stesen bas/ bus stop?

Where are you (sing) going?- Mapun gan kaau?

Where are you (plural) going?- Mapun gan keleu?

I am not familiar with the streets here.- enda akou taou alun gak gitou.

How do I get to...?- Jian tan akou bak mapun...

How do I get to the bus stop?- Jian tan akou bak mapun stesen bas/ bus stop?

How do I get there?- Jian tan akou bak meninan?

Is it far?- Jauk ka?

It is not very far- Enda jauk angai.

It is nearby.- Segak un

It is not here- Enda bei ngadan gian yen gak gitou.

far- jauk


go straight ahead until..- makau un tigah tapak...
eg. You go straight ahead until you see a red house- Makau un kaau tigah tapak peden lebuk seak.

to the left- gak bah ulai
eg. the bus station is to the left of the red house- stesen bus yen gak bah ulai lebuk seak.

to the right- gak bah tu-u
eg. there is a groceries to the left of the bus station- bei kedai runcit gak bah tuu bus stesen yen.

behind- gak buta
eg. there is a coconut tree behind the groceries.- bei daan benyuh gak buta kedai runcit yen.

in front of- gak jawai
eg. there is a small road in front of the groceries.- Bei alun umik gak jawai kedai yen.

opposite- dipah
eg. there is a big Supermarket opposite the groceries.-Bei Supermarket nyat dipah kedai runcit yen.

eg. the supermarket is near the fish market.- Supermarket yen segak pajak jekan.

on top of- gak bau
eg. there is a small flag on top of the supermarket.- Bei bendirak umik gak bau supermaket yen.

under- gak dibak.
eg. there is a cat under the table.- bei sieang gak dibak mija.

Laéi-a: Singouih lah Bedil

winter's coming

Singouih lah Bedil

pronounciation: si-nguiyh lah be-dil
literally means: cold like a cannon
Malay: Sejuk seperti meriam

Actual meaning:a very cold weather, being too cold

Malay: keaadan yang sangat sejuk, sangat sejuk

Kelalu tan lau itou. Singouih lah bedil
Today is the worst. It is cold like a cannon.

Idiom: Pebulou Usuek

7 Deadly Sins - Envy

Photo: StayPround

Pebulou Usuék

pronounciation: Pe-Bu_low U-su-ék
literally means: hairy chest
Malay: dada berbulu

Actual meaning: a jealous person

Malay: Orang yang iri hati

Pebulou means " hairy "
Usuék means "chest"( malay dada )


Idiom: Pinyéang Nyawa

Pirate highwire jig

Pinyéang Nyawa

literally means: to search for Life
Malay: Mencari nyawa

Actual meaning: to intentionally engage in dangerous and lethal activities

Malay: sengaja mencari bahaya atau mencari nahas

This figure of speech may sound positive but actually it brings a very negative connotation.

Kak taban suis Lampu yen. Tujok nou basak. Bak Pinyéang Nyawa ka!
Do not touch the Lamp switch with your wet fingers (here means wet hand). Do you want to search for life! ( Do you want to get electrocuted!)

Idiom: Sepuhut ji jawai

Evidence of Movement front page

Sepuhut ji jawai

pronounciation: Se-pu-hut ji ja-wai
literally means: look like a face that just being washed
Malay: seperti muka yang baru sahaja dibasuh

Actual meaning: to talk with no evidence

Malay: Becakap tanpa sebarang bukti

Sepuhut means to wash the face
ji means like
Jawai means face

The origin of this idiom still unclear to me. Any one who have any ideas where this comes from please leave comment below :) thanks

Idiom: Nyat Bam

and back again, with a big step..

Nyat Bam

pronounciation: Nyat Bam
literally means: big step
Malay:langkah besar

Actual meaning:comfortable

Malay: selesa

Nyat means big
Bam means step

Idiom: Pebulou Kabut

do not be afraid

Pebulou Kabut

pronounciation: Pe-Bu-low Ka-but
literally means: hairy buttocks

Actual meaning: a coward, one who shows disgraceful fear or timidity

Malay: Penakut

Idiom: Menggagak tan nyawa a debei


Menggagak tan nyawa a debei

literally means: to intentionally test one owns life
Malay: cuba menguji nyawa sendiri

Actual meaning: to intentionally engage in dangerous activities.

Malay: mencuba sesuatu yang bahaya

This Idiom has the same conotation and meaning as Pinéang Nyawa (to search for Life).
Menggagak tan is a verb: to test something that is already predictable.
Malay: menguji sesuatu yang memang sudah dijangka akibatnya.

Menggagak tan bak belabok: trying to fall
Menggagak tan bak matai: trying to die


Kak perukok segak toéng benzin yen. Menggagak tan nyawa a debei!
Do not light a cigarrete near the benzin tank. Do you want to test your life!

Learn Melanau idioms, idiomatic expressions, proverbs and sayings used in everyday language, with their meaning and an example!

Idiom: Menyebueng tan bulou biyaih kou

Enlighten body parts #4 - Chair de poule

Menyebuéng tan bulou biyaih kou

pronounciation: Me-nye-bu-éng tan bu-low bi-ya-ih kow
literally means: the hair on my body stands straight up
Malay: meremang rasanya bulu badan ku


Actual meaning: to get goose bumps

deutsch: ich bekam eine Gänsehaut

Malay: meremang bulu roma

More about Goose Bumps at Wikipedia

Idiom: Nepeang bau Linga

I Can't Hear You!!!

Nepéang bau Linga

pronounciation: Ne-péAng Bau Li-ngA
literally means: to drape over the ears
Malay: Sidai di telinga

Actual meaning: Someone who will not listen to other people's advice

Malay: Enggan mendengar nasihat orang lain

Nepéang is a verb means to drape over*.
bau means above
Linga means ears

Here the Word ( Advice) is treated like a cloth that covers the ears.

Min-min wak teniju kou gak siyen, nepéang bau linga un.
He just ignores everything that I adviced him to do.

*drape over= [for cloth] to cover something and hang down.

Idiom: Lah tipa musit matalau

Sun Rays

Lah tipa musit matalau

pronounciation: lah ti-pa mu-sit ma-ta-lau
literally means: like ray of sunrise
Malay: seperti pancaran/ sinaran terbit mentari

Actual meaning: a very beautiful Lady.

Malay: Perempuan yang sangat cantik

lah means " Like "
tipa means "ray"( malay Pancaran, Sinaran )
musit matalau is Sunrise.

Melanau Women are known to be fair. Therefore the most beautiful one will be compliment fair ie like ray of sunrise. Eda Green in her book in 1909 wrote "...the Milanaus, whose girls are as fair as any Europeans and the belles of Borneo."

Laéi-a: Lah Manouk ka

Magpie - Adelaide Airport

Lah manouk ka

pronounciation: Lah Ma-nouk ka
literally means: like a magpie
Malay: seperti burung murai

Actual meaning:a very talkative peson

Malay:cakap terlalu banyak

Lah means like
Manouk ka is a Magpie , german: Dajaldrossel

Learn Melanau idioms, idiomatic expressions, proverbs and sayings used in everyday language, with their meaning and an example!

Laéi-a: gak guun alan

outlaws of arran

Gak guun alan

pronounciation: gak gu-un a-lan
literally means: deep in the forest

Actual meaning:Something that is very difficult to find

Malay: Sesuatu yang sukar ditemui

To a melanau a deep jungle ( Guun alan) is a very dangerous place especially this is where evil spirits (tou) mostly reside. Hence to search for anything inside a deep jungle is difficult and sometimes can be said like Pinyéang Nyawa

Learn Melanau idioms, idiomatic expressions, proverbs and sayings used in everyday language, with their meaning and an example!

Idiom: Lah asou mueng amou

Barking at Mouille Point

Lah asou muéng amou

*Contribution from our reader:

Lah asou mueng amou, ikui kiwa kiwed,bebak kiya kaong
Meaning: like a dog seeing a ghost, the tail wiggles cowardly,the mouth barking empty

pronounciation: lah A-sow mu-éng A-mow
literally means: like a dog greets a ghost (spirits)
Malay: seperti anjing menegur hantu (makhluk halus)

Actual meaning: all talk no action

Malay: Becakap besar tapi tidak berbuat apa-apa

lah means " Like "
Asou means dog
muéng is a verb: to greet ( menegur)

It is believed that when a dog barks, it actualy is trying to greet spirits ( in this case an amou). The barking is very loud and fruitless. Here the "all talk " is the barking and the ghost ( spirits) represents "nothingness" and whole thing apparently seems fruitless.

Idiom: Lah Lisou

Tropical Cyclone Paul

Lah lisou

pronounciation: lah li-sow
literally means: like a Cyclone
Malay: seperti taufan

Actual meaning: someone who walks very fast

Malay: berjalan terlalu cepat

lah means " Like "
Lisou means hurricane (Malay: taufan)

A lisou (Malay: taufan) is a very strong and fast wind and has a diameter on scale of hundreds of kilometer. It can last for days. A lisou should not be confused with Nyaru which is actualy a tornado (Malay: puting beliung) . A tonado has a diameter on the scale of hundreds of meters and dies out in minutes.

Example: Ka'au makau lah lisou- You walk too fast. (You walk like a cyclone)

Idiom: Belipan gak tagak a kek den,naga gak tagak adep nda bei den

Scolopendra heros (giant desert centipede)

belipan gak tagak a kek den,naga gak tagak adep nda bei den

pronounciation: be-li-pan gak ta-gak a kek den,na-ga gak ta-gak a-dep nda bei den
literally means: one can see a centipede under other people's ladder, but cannot see a dragon under one's ladder.
Malay: Lipan ditangga orang nampak, naga ditangga sendiri tidak nampak

Actual meaning: to be able only to spot other people's mistake but not own mistake

Malay: Kesalahan orang lain sahaja yang nampak tetapi bukan kesalahan sendiri


Idiom: Diak kaau piman baya


Diak kaau piman baya

pronounciation: Di-yak ka-aw pi-man bA-yA
literally means: It is better for you to pet a crocodile
Malay: Baik awak pelihara buaya

Actual meaning: someone who is untrustworthy.

Malay: Orang yang tidak amanah

Diak kaau means " It is better for you "
piman is a verb which means to pet or to breed (Malay: ternak, pelihara)
Baya is corcodile

An untrustworthy person is always living a very dangerous life because when caught red handed, he will get into serious trouble. Thus it is like petting a crocodile. You will never know when a timid crocodile will suddenly attack.


Siyen peguna duit a lah duit siyen. Diak siyen piman baya!
He uses other people's money for his own sake. Such an untrustworty person! (It is better for him to pet a crocodile)

Idiom: Apuk Tap Buduek

The Haunting

Apuk tap buduék

pronounciation: A-puk tAp Bu-du-é'
literally means: White sole
Malay: Putih tapak kaki

Actual meaning: to be very scared (of something)

Malay: berada dalam keaadan yang sangat takut

Apuk means " white "
tap Buduék means "sole"( malay Tapak kaki )

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grammar 4: Penjodoh Bilangan Melanau II ( Melanau Classifier II) Pt 2-2

In this lesson we will introduce you with another set of classifiers which some thought only possible with malay classifiers but actually exist in melanau.

Grammar 3: Penjodoh bilangan melanau I (Melanau Classifier I) Pt 1-2

One difference is that the melanau classifier can be used for anaphoric reference but in malay it is not possible. Anaphoric reference is simply a word that represent another word.

things i love thursdays

Grammar 2: The Melanau Pronouns

Fortunately in Melanau the pronouns do not chance to the grammatical cases mentioned above. The melanau pronouns maintain their form in any cases.

Awek Lun Bawang

Grammar 1: The Shortest Melanau Word

Different from Malay which only uses yang as an indicator to relate to both animate and inanimate objects (Rumah yang besar, Pelajar-pelajar yang bijak), melanau uses 4 types of indicator.

Alphabet: A

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Melanau Land of the dead- Likou a Matai

At the mouth of the river (Kala) and before entering the land of the dead, a Bedua (Soul) must first seek permission from the guardian called Balou Adet.
Journey on the river of the dead


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