Lesson 63 Compliments and criticisms
In the course of our daily conversations we are bound to hear compliments as well as criticisms about other people (well, that is the way of the world). Or you yourself might feel the urge to praise or criticise someone. Here then are examples of common appreciations and criticisms. First the appreciations:
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A second reading (by Muhammad Nor Ismat, a native speaker)
When you wish to congratulate someone for an achievement you can either say Saya ucapkan tahniah atas kejayaan anda (I congratulate you on your success) or if that is too long for you just say Syabas! (Well done!). The word is pronounced "sha-bas".
Other commendable qualities are:
ikhlas = sincere
murah hati = generous (murah as you have learnt in Lesson 33 means "cheap")
rendah hati = humble (rendah means "low" - see Lesson 47)
sabar or sabar hati = patient but berhati-hati means "careful" or "be careful!"
There are two other words for careful: cermat and teliti
(datang) tepat = (to be) punctual
setia = loyal
riang = cheerful
berbudi bahasa = polite
Another word for polite is sopan
You will notice that a number of these qualities contain the word hati which means heart. Other common expressions with the word hati are: panas hati meaning angry, puas hati meaning satisfied and sakit hati meaning annoyed or hurt (eg. by someone's remarks).
Leaving people aside, when you want to say that a performance or a film is really superb you can say Bagus sekali or Hebat sekali (pronounce the first syllable as "hay", not "her").
Now we come to the criticisms. About the worst criticism one can make of a Malaysian is that of being kurang ajar. The person to whom this remark is intended would be covered with shame as it means that he has not been properly brought up (is ill-bred or uncouth). Courtesy plays a very important part in the Malay culture. Don't ever forget that. Thus it would be rude (biadab) to hand over something to a Malay with your left hand or for a son to argue loudly with his parents (though modern parents might be more open and allow their children more leeway).
Wherever possible, however, one should avoid hurting the feelings of others by respecting their culture which could be very different from one's own.
By the way the word kurang by itself means "less". Thus if you are asking the shopkeeper to reduce the price you might say Boleh kurang sedikit? (Can you lessen a bit?)
To turn words of compliment into words of criticism you only have to add tidak before the adjectives.
Thus Dia boleh dipercayai means "He can be trusted" whereas Dia tidak boleh dipercayai means "He cannot be trusted".
If you had learnt the first part of this lesson well you should now know the meanings of the following: tidak ikhlas, tidak ramah, tidak murah hati and tidak sabar.
It's time for me to bring up the word setuju which means to agree. Thus "I agree with you" would be Saya setuju dengan anda or Saya setuju dengan apa yang anda kata itu. (I agree with what you said.)
If you would like to use the verb with the prefix you would say Saya bersetuju dengan anda or Saya bersetuju dengan pendapat anda (I agree with your opinion.)
Incidentally a useful opening for a sentence is Pada pendapat saya... as it means "In my opinion...".
If you don't agree with what is being said you only have to put tidak, the word of negation, before setuju . Thus Saya tidak setuju dengan anda. means "I don't agree with you".
You can temper your disagreement by preceding it with Maafkan saya. Thus to politely object to what someone said you could say Maafkan saya, tetapi saya tidak setuju dengan anda (Excuse me, but I don't agree with you) or if you prefer, Maafkan saya, tetapi saya tidak setuju dengan pendapat anda. (Excuse me, but I don't agree with your point of view.)
If you are now at a stage where you can engage in a simple conversation in Malay you should learn this question and use it at the first opportunity: Adakah anda setuju dengan saya atau tidak? (Do you agree with me or not?)
The sentences in the table below give examples of criticisms that you might hear:
In the third sentence bau (pronounced as two syllables ba-oo) by itself means "smell"
If you wish to leave no doubt that the person smells terrible you could say:
Orang itu berbau busuk since busuk by itself means bad-smelling.
A person who has a bad or wicked heart is referred to as busuk hati.
If you wish to refer to something that smells good you can say berbau harum or berbau wangi.
From this it is easy to remember the Malay word for "perfume". It is air wangi (fragrant water) or minyak wangi (fragrant oil).
By the way the word minyak alone can mean either cooking oil or car petrol depending on the context. Engine oil, since it is black in colour, is called minyak hitam.
A second meaning of busuk is "rotten" or "decayed". Thus when you say Buah itu sudah busuk you are referring to a fruit that has become rotten or decayed. Incidentally the word to use for an object that has become damaged is rosak eg. Kereta saya sudah rosak. (My car is out of order).
cuai or tidak berhati-hati = careless
cemburu or iri hati = jealous
Dia selalu cemburu kerana teman lelakinya suka bergurau dengan gadis-gadis di pejabat. (She is always jealous because her boyfriend likes to joke with the girls in the office.)
sombong = proud