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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

HOW TO SAY “DELICIOUS!” IN SOUTHEAST ASIA







My friends and I asked around the neighborhood on “how to say delicious” in our region. We got mixed responses. Some gladly helped and some outright attacked us saying “Whadda heck do you wanna know?! My country speaks English anyway and 'delicious' would be understood”. *my eyeballs rolled 3 times and my left eyebrow challenged the Petronas*

What these oh-so-high-almighty-fluent-English-speakers-with-noses-flat-as-a-pancake don’t understand is; the cultural essence of learning to speak another language. I don’t know about you but here in Thailand, when a foreigner makes an effort to speak our language, we treat them with high esteem.

One time, I was in another country *which I won’t name even if you stick a fork up my nostrils* and made an effort to speak their language. You know what I got?“Why are you talking in *toot toot*? Don’t you know everybody here speaks English and we are the best English speakers in the whole of Asia yaddi-yadda-yadda-blah-blah?” *OMG! What a culture-less human being!*

Anyways, enough of the ranting…here’s how to say delicious in Southeast Asia and express your appreciation for the delicious food your hosts are serving you:

You saysedap” in Malaysia and Brunei. Remember that the ‘e’ is pronounced like a soft ‘a”. You would surely harvest nice praises from the Malays and the Bruneians and who knows? – They might give you more food to munch on.

“Sedap” is also applicable in Malay speaking Singapore. And ‘delicious’ in Mandarin is “Hen Hao Chi” or “Hen Mei Wei” or if you really want to impress your hosts, say "Jin Ho Jiek" in Hokkien and "Ho Sek" in Cantonese.

In Vietnam, “Ngon” means delicious. "Rất ngon" means very delicious. If you wanna compliment your hosts’ effort of preparing a dish for you, you say "Ngon quá" for appreciation.

Sarap” is the root word for ‘delicious’ in the Philippines. You can use it as it is or add a prefix like “masarap” (delicious), “napakasarap” (very delicious) or the overactingAng sarap-sarap!” – please note that the Malay ’sedap’ is pronounced like ‘sarap’ too. If you’re in Cebu or Mindanao Island; you say “Lami kaayo”.

Indonesia has a lot of terms for it – “bagose makan”, “enak”, “sedap”, “nikmat” or simply “maknyuss”. And if you wanna max it up -- you can add “sangat” or “sekali” or “banget”. Although the most appropriate term for delicious food is “Lezat”. You can also use these in Timor Leste.

They say “Chi-ang” in Cambodia. In Laos it’s “Saep” (like ‘sehp”) and add “lai lai” after it to say it’s very delicious. I was told its “Lum tair tair” in Burma but I’m not really sure because it sounds Northern Thai to me. *Help me out, Dawn?*

Here in Thailand (เมืองไทยน่าอยู่ที่สุดในโลกเลย) -- we say “aroi” (อร่อย) for delicious and “aroi mak” (อร่อยมาก) for very delicious.

I don’t need to note that you don’t say “delicious” each and every time you stuff your face, should I? Once is enough -- on the first bite usually and maybe repeat it again when you finish eating for the best effect.

These little cultural/language exchange brings us closer together. After all, we are one big family anyway that happens to speak different languages.


I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did.

****


-- Pisanu


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25 Comments:

mark said...

But wait lets not generalized! a few bad culture-less people does not make the whole country culture-less...

Its only this few people that ruins and create this bad impressions...

mark said...

@ Pisanu... I know which country you are referring to. I think its because they are so americanized and they feel its the best way to go...

One must be humble and must always accept and remember his/her roots no matter what (I mean no matter what)...

As the saying "Ang sino mang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan" I will still love the country u are referring to no matter what!

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Mark...I'm not sure if you're Markymd or Mark P.

But anyway, whatever country it is, I was referring to the person who told me those words.

PLUS...with the numerous attacks on this blog on the way we Thais speak English was way too much too many.

To clear the air for you...I'm attacking particular persons, not a country. Open your mind dude.=)

mark said...

@ Pisanu... I'm not Markymd or Mark P.(who are they?). I'm a different mark, sorry la my name is not that unique haha...

Hey dont get me wrong, I know who you are attacking and what u meant, I just posted that first comment just incase there is someone out there who dont have an open mind...

See my second comment "Ang sino mang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan" I was telling the people from this country to be humble and always accept and remember their roots no matter what, afterall there is only one SouthEast Asia and we should learn to respect eachother and be one big happy family...

kingdaddyrch said...

yeah!!! its masarap in the Philippines.. but then, the level of being delicious depends on how yu say

MAAASAAARRAAAPPP!!! uhmmmmM!!!

M|O|N|G|K|O|L said...

Another interesting post again.

Just a correction to the Cambodian word for "delicious". It should be "Ch'gnanh," not "Chi-An." And to say "very delicious", just add "nas" after "Ch'gnanh."

carl said...

Yes, put "American" in anything and all of the sudden you have turned it into a negative...

Our culture is so corrupting...

But, as an American, who did spend half his formative years living overseas let me say that not everything "American" corrupts and or is bad...

Lets just say that we are a country of decent people, if somewhat naive with a really poor government!

Gee...that sounds almost like a definition for a third world country...hmmm....

Need to think about that...

Don said...

ei Pisanu, it's great to see you're back! uh-oh.. i know what country you're referring to...sad to say there are innumerable pompous S.O.Bs., nuff said, back to the real topic.. "Pagkalami" is another way of saying very delicious here in the visayan region.

Carlos Javier said...

Haha! Looks like we don't need a fork up your nose to know that country's identity. LOL.

Oh well, as far as i'm concerned, lami gyud kaayo ang Thai food! Haha! Yum!

markymd said...

@pisani - this is markymd... im not the mark who posted the first comments in this entry

Q The Conqueror said...

*sigh* some people are too starstruck by anything foreign that they quickly put it up as "superior" and shouldn't be tainted by something base. Colonial Mentality all over again.

At least a lot of people I know love teaching all kinds of strange words to foreigners (of course, this is sometimes more for the laughs afterward then for anything else).

Glad to see you back from your hiatus :)

AJ said...

Where I come from, we also respect (sometimes even more) foreigners who attempt to learn the local language. And I agree with you, you weren't attacking a country, you were attacking a person. Uhm, what can I say? Lami kaayo ang mga Eurasians! Hahaha!

Anonymous said...

In Brunei we say 'nyaman' and we seldom use the word 'sedap'.

savante said...

Sedap has been said... so lemme give you anotehr. In hokkien, we call it ho-chiak. There's even a programme with that name!

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

Thanks guys for the comments. And more thanks for the inputs for Cambodia, Brunei and Malaysia. I'll edit the post soon. You are all awesome! Wooohoooo!

eyron said...

in my language it is manyaman (delicious), kanyaman (very delicious)

Carlos Javier said...

In addition to "masarap" and "lami" in the Philippines, the 11 million speakers of Ilonggo (aka Hiligaynon) say "namit" to mean the same thing. "Very delicious!" is "namit gid!"

This applies to food in general, but it may also apply to people colloquially. Heheh.

gorjess said...

kanyaman,masarap,lami,

riain said...

yeah, its always a nice trick to know the thank you, please, delicious in the local dialects. Im my local Pinoy dialect we say " Manami ", omitting the "T" of the Ilonggos. In China I think you need to know as well what food are you eating - if it doesnt sound like pork, veggies, beef, venison, and seafood. run away. LOL.

Erique Fat Owl said...

Pisanu, for the Indonesian part...

There's no such word as "bagose makan". I wonder where did you get that. I know a lot about my country's many languages and dialects, but never on earth have I heard the expression "bagose makan".

that term, "bagose makan" is probably coined by some silly foreigner (non-Indonesian) with their broken Indonesian. You see, "bagose" is somewhat close to the Indonesian word "bagus", which means good, nice, beautiful, pretty. the word "makan" is indeed in our vocabulary, meaning "to eat". so "bagose makan" is probably a super duper broken Indonesian of "good to eat". But it's WRONG, wrong, wrong. Nobody in Indonesia would understand such thing.

The three most common words for "delicious" are:

"enak" (colloquial speech)
"sedap" (formal speech)
"lezat" (formal speech)

"nikmat" is rather poetic, and rarely used in normal conversations, unless the person speaking it is speaking in a sarcastic or jovial tone.

"maknyuss" is not an official Indonesian word. The term is made popular by a famous TV culinary tour host. It's actually a Javanese expression for "it gets there". In this case, it means "it gets to your taste buds". It's actually rather onomatopoeic. "maknyuss" is an onomatopoeia for something rushing in a pleasant way.

Something "maknyuss" also means that something "gets the job done perfectly". In this case, it means, "it gets the job done (in pleasing my tastebuds) perfectly and in a pleasant manner".

While you can use the word "maknyuss" in many instances (you can interchangeably use the word "maknyus" with "good"), but the usage is very, very specific and only Indonesians or people with high knowledge of Indonesian language should attempt to use it. Once again, it is NOT an official Indonesian word listed on the KBBI (the official Indonesian language dictionary). Avoid using this word to avoid faux pas.

I hope I'm not confusing you.

raissa said...

In Waray which is the dialect spoken by the people from Leyte in the Philippines, its "marasa" or "karasa man" (very delicious)

PriMaster said...

@Erique Fat Owl
Agree with you on Maknyuss. Although this word can be used on other occasion not only related to food, but you need to be careful when using this word. Eventhough it doesn't mean a bad word

moris@putrajaya said...

dude..
im always hungry of at ur post because its so aroi mak..
LOL

moris

Tsinitoboy said...

Same with Brunei, we use the word nyaman in Pampanga and putting prefixes for added effects such as kanyaman & manyaman.

aRj said...

this post may be 4 years old, but it was still very helpful and very thorough.

whenever i visit a new country, i try my best to speak their language, and you are right--they appreciate it.

by the way, excellent blog you got here. i think i'll drop by more often. :)

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