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Kelantan Malay vs. Thai

March 14, 2011

I have pointed out that Kelantan Malay might be distinguished from Pattani Malay in terms of their contact effects. While Kelantan Malay has lived side by side with Standard Malay within the peaceful paradise called Malaysia, Pattani Malay has been having an intimate and complicated affair with Thai for so many years. However, is it possible that Kelantan Malay might have a direct relationship with Thai? Honestly, I had no idea.

Until I came to know this curious French lady called Jeanne Cuisinier. She boldly came to Kelantan in the early twentieth century and studied magic. I’m not sure whether she ended up becoming a powerful witch in France, but in her book Danses magiques de Kelantan (1936), she discovered that the belief systems among the Kelantanese, particularly with regard to shamanism, had some similarities with the ones practiced in Thailand. This common knowledge of spirit and genies and pochong and whatnot could have boosted the strong linguistic tie between these two regions. So to speak.

In the eighth edition of Warisan Kelantan (1989), Dr Mohamed Yusoff Ismail claimed that there is a great deal of shared corpus between Kelantan Malay and Thai. Why? They both borrowed many words from the same sources – Sansekerta and Pali. The loan words have diverged quite significantly from the original ones which is strongly due to different sound systems in the two languages. This results in systematic phonological changes, particularly in a complex context in which speech sounds are transfered from Thai to Kelantan Malay. While Thai is a tonal language, Kelantan Malay is completely the opposite. Quite naturally, the Thai sounds are ‘neutralized’ according to the Kelantan sound system. This orderly, chopping-down transformation is apparent in such aspects as aspiration, voicing, nasalization and vowel shape.

Today, most of the words in Kelantan Malay that are claimed to have Thai origins can be found in many monosyllabic words, which are usually highly contextualized and nonexistent in Standard Malay. No researchers have ever discussed the possible gemination at the beginning of these words. As a native speaker of Kelantan Malay, I suspect that double consonants do exist in monosyllabic words, at least that’s the way I pronounce them. However, it is still premature to claim so, until I can prove them acoustically or articulatorily.

To examine all the loan words of Thai in Kelantan Malay can be pretty taxing and depressing. However, here are 27 of them for your pleasure and amusement.

1. /bɔ/ [Thai: /phɔɔ/]

Meaning: Enough
Example: /bɔ lah ambɔ tɔɁ se dɔh/ = “Enough, I don’t want anymore”
Note: Voiceless /p/ in Thai is voiced /b/ in Kelantan Malay. The aspiration is lost and the vowel is shorter.

2. /ɕɔɁ/ [Thai: /ɕɔɔb/]

Meaning: Hoe
Note: The only consonants that can occur in final position in Kelantan Malay are /Ɂ/, /ŋ/ and /h/.

3. /dɛ/ [Thai: /than/]

Meaning: Managed (to do something)
Example: /tɔɁ dɛ sapa/ = “He didn’t manage to arrive”
Note: The final consonant /n/ in Thai is lost in Kelantan Malay and the preceding vowel is replaced by /ɛ/.

4. /goɁ/ [Thai: /khɔɔk/]

Meaning: Chicken coop
Note: Voiceless /k/ in Thai is voiced /g/ in Kelantan Malay.

5. /goŋ/ [Thai: /khooŋ/]

Meaning: Not so clever

6. /ʝoŋ/ [Thai: /ʝoom/]

Meaning: Someone who is in-charge of a task
Example: /diɔ ʝoŋ kakɔ/ = “He is serving the food at the event”
Note: In Thai, this word is used in a temple context.

7. /kɔ͂Ɂ/ [Thai: /khook/]

Meaning: To hit slightly on someone’s head with one’s knuckles
Note: The vowel /ɔ/ in Kelantan Malay is strongly nasalized in this context.

8. /liɁ/ [Thai: /liik/]

Meaning: To avoid, for example, from being hit by a stone

9. /lɔɁ/ [Thai: /lodlaɁ/]

Meaning: To let something happen
Note: /laɁ/ in Thai is dropped in Kelantan Malay.

10. /maũ/ [Thai: /maw/]

Meaning: Unpleasant smell e.g. a child’s vomit (the original meaning in Thai is “intoxicated”)

11. /ɔɁ/ [Thai: /od/]

Meaning: To endure
Example: /diɔ tɔɁ leh ɔɁ nɔɁ mutɔh/ = “He can’t endure from vomiting”

12. /ɣɛŋ/ [Thai: /rɛɛŋ/]

Meaning: Human Energy
Example: /ɣɛŋ tɔɁ kuaɁ/ = “The energy is not strong”

13. /ɣɔɁ/ [Thai: /rok/]

Meaning: Bush

14. /suɁ/ [Thai: /sud/]

Meaning: The last

15. /jaɁ/ [Thai: /jaa/]

Meaning: Used as an interjection
Example: /jaɁ jaɁ jaɁ nɔɁ ʝatoh/ = “Oh no, it’s falling down!”

16. /bəlɛ/ [Thai: /phlaan/]

Meaning: While
Example: /bəlɛ ʝʝalɛ bəlɛ ɲɲaɲi/ = “While walking, while singing”

17. /ʝɔ’oŋ/ [Thai: /chaɁ’um/]

Meaning: Cloudy
Note: Voiceless /c/ in Thai is voiced /ʝ/ in Kelantan Malay.

18. /ʝənəɣɔ/ [Thai: /nitraa/]

Meaning: Sleep soundly
Example: /diɔ ʝənəɣɔ dɔh/ = “He has slept soundly”
Note: The word /ʝənəɣɔ/ in Kelantan Malay has diverged a lot from its Thai counterpart /nitraa/, which is normally used in poetry.

19. /kəleɁ/ [Thai: /klab/]

Meaning: Going back (from a place)

20. /kkɔhɔ/ [Thai: /khɔj/]

Meaning: Slowly
Example: /ʝʝalɛ kkɔhɔ/ = “Walk slowly”
Note: /kkɔhɔ/ comes with a double consonant /kk/. It is a variant of /kɔhɔ kɔhɔ/.

21. /lɔ ni/ [Thai: /weelaanii/]

Meaning: Right now
Note: The phrase is shortened in Kelantan Malay. /lɔ/ always comes with /ni/.

22. /mməcɔɁ/ [Thai: /prachod/]

Meaning: To sulk (the original meaning in Thai is “sarcasm”)
Note: The Kelantan Malay word has an initial double consonant of /mm/.

23. /ɣasi/ [Thai: /raasii/]

Meaning: To be close to someone

24. /səlɔɁ/ [Thai: /salag/]

Meaning: To lock/ to faint
Example: /diɔ səlɔɁ kənɔ kətiɁ dula/ = “He fainted after being bitten by a snake”

25. /siba/ [Thai: /sbaj/]

Meaning: Plain cloth on one’s shoulder during a special event

26. /sɔɁmɔ/ [Thai: /saməə/]

Meaning: Always
Example: /diɔ maɣi ssini sɔɁmɔ/ = “He always comes here”

27. /tohoɁ/ [Thai: /thood/]

Meaning: To throw

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