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Winner of Expat Go Malaysia's Discuss: Is Communicating in English a Challenge in Malaysia

Summary of Discussion: Is Communicating in English a Challenge in Malaysia

Below is a summary of the feedback gathered from the comments on the above Discuss topic.

  • Ordering food in restaurants can get confusing: One has to be really clear when ordering food in restaurants.
  • Important to make an effort to learn the local language: Learning a few words in Bahasa Malaysia can help make life easier.
  • Words that sound the same but have different meaning: People often get confused when certain words have two meanings, like salt and sauce.

Here is a compilation of comments about specific issues faced when communicating in English in Malaysia.

Commenter Tim: When you ask for fries in restaurant you often get rice, ask for French fries, since French rice is not a recipe here!

Commenter Nick: I have many times been at restaurant and copied a friend’s drink or food order by saying, “Yes, I’ll have that too”. This almost always results in the waiter thinking I want two of those drinks or meals for myself.

Commenter Jill: I have learned enough Bahasa to be polite and order what I want (which is usually greeted with shock), enough Tamil to meet and greet and enough Hokien and Mandarin to greet and say cheers! At my age, learning languages is very difficult but as I have made my home here and I would expect them to do the same in my country, I am making every effort to learn the local languages, particularly Bahasa Melayu.

Commenter Kp Priya: My previous organization sold “Wages” instead of “Wedges” at the cafeteria for MYR3.50. Also direct translation seems to be a norm, too.
Commenter Nick: I have many times been at restaurant and copied a friend’s drink or food order by saying, “Yes, I’ll have that too”. This almost always results in the waiter thinking I want two of those drinks or meals for myself.

Commenter Jill: Particularly problematic when you ask for a quantity of something. I ask for ‘one’ and they say ‘two’? I think in general this is their way of checking the number you asked for by giving you the wrong one and asking if it is correct.

Commenter Gerard: Talking on the phone to business support staff can’t sometime be difficult!

To read the original discussion, visit this page.

The winner of this Discuss topic is Jill.

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