A guide to the language, from assal to tremah
THE Malay people of Cape Town have their own unique vernacular – a combination of Malaysian and Indonesian words with a slight Afrikaans twist.
Many have been derived from Arabic words.
While the use of most of these terms and phrases has died out over the past two to three decades, the occasional Cape Malay word sometimes creeps into conversations today.
However, their true meanings are rarely understood. Here is a list of some of the most commonly-used terms: Assal – lineage. Bang – the call to prayer. Bappa – grandfather. Barakat – a parcel of treats. Batcha – to recite in Arabic. Behangsels – curtains and bedding in the bridal chamber.
Bekend maak – to personally invite people to a wedding. Boeka – the breaking of the fast. Boeta/ boeya – elder.
Das – a lecture (derived from the Arabic word dars). Doepmaal – name-giving ceremony. Faam maak – to memorise or to become fluent in. Gelamba – engaged. Giena – henna (a substance used to stain nails). Hoe faa – How are you? Jamang – toilet. Kalam – a wooden device used to point at words when learning the Qu'ran. Kaparangs – wooden clogs. Kiefait klops – burial society. Labarang – Eid. Manie or mandie – a ritual bath. Miedourah – decorative scarf which is pinned to form a bridal head gear. Miesfal – a less decorative scarf. Myang – incense. Pwasa – to fast. Sajie – the preparation of food. Soembain – to pray. Tapyt – a prayer mat. Tawetjie – special occasion garb. Tremah kasih – Thank You. Tremah kasih vir Allah – Thank Allah (a response to Tremah kasih).