Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Still remember how startled was my father when he heard a son referring to his father as 'you' in a programme over the television when Malaysian TV made its debut in the early sixties.

He just could not tolerate it any longer when a son calling his father "John" (by his name)! "Biadap" (rude) he shouted.

It was and still is not the way we Malays refer to our elders, be it a father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, brother or sister.

It is a taboo for a Malay youngster to refer to his/her elders by name. It is just unaccepted.

It is our culture that we respect our elders, even if they were not our relatives.

That is why we refer our elders as:

Father - ayah, abah, papa, abu, walid
Mother - Mak, Umi
Grandmother - Nenek, Tok wan, Opah, Nek
Granfather - Tok Ki, Aki, Tok
Elder brother - abang, bang
Elder sister - Kakak, kak, akak
Elder man
(even unrelated)- Pak Cik, Uncle + his name
Elder woman
(even unrelated)- Mak Cik, Auntie + her name
Older man - Abang, bang + his name (nickname)
Younger man - Adik, Dik
Younger woman - Be careful! Don't refer her as Adik/Dik
if she was already married. Just called
her Puan
Older woman - Kakak, kak
Old man - Tok, Tok Ki, Atok
Old woman - Wan, Tok wan, Tok
Married women - Puan
Single women - Cik

I hope this will be useful fo foreigners coming to Malaysia

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