Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Murderer Named Anu Bah.

“Anu, dia orang tengah anu bah…” was the operator’s reply.


I asked how much longer the repairs would take.

“Anu bah, boss….” answered the operator.


Rantings, Rantings and more Rantings

The power was out for 5 hours today.

I returned ‘home’ from work today with a new hamster cage and great enthusiasm to get my two spoiled brats settled in their new and larger home. I was greeted by total darkness. The power must have been out for quite a while already because the fridge was all warm and clammy.

I called Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) to report the outage. They knew about it already. I asked if any action has already been taken to investigate the power failure.

“Anu, dia orang tengah anu bah…” was the operator’s reply.


I asked how much longer the repairs would take.

“Anu bah, boss….” answered the operator.


I said thank you or something like that and hung up.

I was expected to naturally understand what she meant exactly when she anu-ed me. If I had not been in Sabah for two years already, I would have died from exasperation trying to carry a conversation that makes sense with a Sabahan.

What in the world is ANU??? It’s definitely not algebra, cos Sabahans are not famed mathematicians.

Which smart ass Sabahan/Filipino/Indonesian pioneered the use of the word anu in Sabah?

Everything and anything seem to be anu here. It can represent whatever and ever anyone wants it to.

Anu is employed in all Sabah conversation in all forms - as a noun, pronoun, adjective, transitive verb, adverb and even on its own as an intransitive verb, as demonstrated by my two-minute ‘conversation’ with the SESB operator.

Anu is probably the next most versatile word in the world after ‘fuck’.

I spent my first year in Sabah trying to make sense of what Sabahans were telling me inasmuch as they were trying to understand my Peninsular Malaysian accent.

I’ve given up. Now I just anu them in return for their plentiful anu bahs.

The rot is too deep to repair. Maybe I’m overreacting to the ubiquity of a local slang, or maybe I sincerely feel that effective communication is a yardstick of the progress of a community.

It’s tremendously sad to see potentially-intelligent Sabahan children trying to communicate with anu riddled all over their sentences and daily conversations. Instead of learning new words and broadening their vocabulary, these young minds are emulating their parents, taking the easy way out by employing anu as a substitute for anything and everything they are not sure of. As a result, we have the Sabahans of today – poor communicators, never specific in the message they are attempting to convey and totally poor candidates for any intellectual discussion.

That is probably why they are more passionate in voting for their Akademi Fantasia representative rather than spend time and money reading and writing. When everything is a potential anu, when everything has once been an anu for the most part of one’s life, it’s bound to be difficult trying to write and read something un-anu.

It’s probably why they are deceived election after election with more promises of anu by their local anu politicians. When the DAP/PKR teams flew over from Semenanjung with reason and logic but no anu, the message reached a boundary too huge to surpass.

In my mind, I can picture the Bung-Mokhtar-like politicians visiting the local villages, fire off a barrage of anu in their campaign speeches and still receive a standing ovation from the crowd.

Not every Kadazandusunbajaumurut Sabahan is guilty of this crime of murdering effective communication but certainly, the majority of local folk here are anu-ing without restraint. There has got to be a limit to the number of roles a local slang can play if there were to be effective communication within the local community. How can any community progress if they can’t even communicate their thoughts and views and questions clearly and specifically?

There are many things I can blame BN/UMNO for – corruption, crime, Project IC, healthcare, education etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. This anu thing is one that I never will fault the BN/UMNO for. The dumb politicians were never responsible for creating and propagating the anu culture among Sabahans young and old.

Why should they?

After all, anu means penis in Malay back over in Semenanjung Malaysia.

Surely they don’t want to be referred to as genitals, or do they?


Anonymous said...

How does one manage to be both witty and wistful all at once as you have? A visit to your blog has become as indispensable as my morning cuppa.

CK Tan said...

a very insightful look at the anu-ism in Sabah.
im not those "anu-ed" sabahan though might guilty of bah sometimes. slang is totally acceptable but when ur take on replacing everything unknown conveniently as anu is very interesting.
in sabah, unknown didn't sparks curiousity and desire to learn but merely a laughable "anu".
ur bung mokhtar reference reignite my disgust to some shameful MPs

Anonymous said...

We have stagnanted but anyway we are still third in per capital after Kiasu Island and Big Spender Brunei in Asean. Wonder whether Thailand or even Vietnam will overtake us in 30 years' time. I always believe that without an open tender system where the lowest price wins and an excellent education system we are doomed. Imagine a student getting 21 distinctions in the SPM. Later it will be sound the death of medical specialists when they refused to recognise FRCS or MRCP from London. It is only a matter of time when the first DG who can't speak proper English takes the throne. See what they did to the external law gradutes from London University which is 150 years old. Anu or not we are doomed, hopefully maintaining our third place for another 50 years where our beloved Pm says we will win a Nobel Prize maybe from an offspring from KJ.

CK Tan said...

Thailand and Vietnam to overtake us in 30 years? That's optimistic!!! THEY MAYBE CAN DO IT IN LESS THAN THAT!!!!!!!!!1

pl said...

Hi mate, accidently found your blog. Great,you finally have your own blog. Remember I told you that you could be a very good writer if you don't feel to be a dr later in your life? :-) Hope everything is fine with you.


Anonymous said...

I'm probably not the best person to comment about this liguistic idiosyncrasy because

1) I've never been to East Malaysia and
2) I've never interacted with anyone from that part of Malaysia

Hence I know diddly-squat about the ligua franca/vernacular there but I rather suspect the East Malaysian's "anu" is the Japanese equivalent of "ano" or "eto".

Japanese are fond of beginning their sentences with "ano' or "ano neh" or "eto" or "neh".

Ano..... Assate hamabe ni sanpo ni ikimashioka?
Shall we go to the beach for a walk the day after tomorrow?

Eto neh. Koko de mattete neh.
Please wait here.

As you can see it serves no purpose. It's simply an idiosyncratic speech pattern.

I stand to be corrected but this is one aspect of the language where I detect a parallel. I don't know about the east Malaysians but as far as I know the Japanese are unrivalled in their penchant for the use of "ano" "eto" and "neh". No conversation is complete without these 'adornments'.

Intrigued kindred spirit

Anonymous said...

Being a Johorean practicing medicine in The Land Under Wind, I can't agree more with you. I received a call from my staff nurse while scanning a pregnant mother in antenatal clinic.

Doctor, anu bah, ini mama bah namanya xxx, anu dia ini bah, 24 minggu mengandung tapi bah , dia punya fundal height macan tinggi lah. Anu bah Dr, kau mau tengok dia hari ini?(doctor, anu bah, this mother bah, her name is xxx, anu bah, she is 24-week pregnant but bah, her fundal height seems higher lah.Anu bah doctor, do you want to see her today?)

I was speechless.

Anonymous said...

omigosh... a daily guessing game.

Anonymous said...

I would like to correct the comment left by an anonymous writer on the March 29, 2008 10:23 PM.

Yes, the japanese do like their "slangs" like "neh" and such but thing is, they're different from the "anu"s in the sense that the Japanese merely use it as a sentence enhancer albeit it has no meaning whatsoever, it's just like the Malaysian "lah, the Sabahan, on the other hand, use "anu" for any word they don't know, so the difference there is pretty big and I detect no parallel whatsoever..

DeePo said...

anu means ''that''...or even ''yang itu''...or ''that person'' be short, anu is included in daily conversation to refer to something (anything be it human or non-human)........

u shud ask them if u dun understand...dun simply 'hate' other ppl's language....respect it.....

Anonymous said...

it's not that we're not good in communication skills, it's just that that is how our talk is. It's worse in west malaysia when a word written is said differently. Example, APA mean WHAT right? Then how come it's pronounced as APE? in english this translates to MONKEY. Don't just discriminate other people. Respect. Understand. You got your ways, we've got ours. If you don't enjoy it, then just let it go. How can one be a Malaysian and yet bring fellow Malaysians down. And this isn't about government politics anymore, it's merely insulting other malaysians from the far side. We know we're not as 'ADVANCE' as west malaysians in terms of communication skills, but atleast we're a happy bunch. Hey, we even feed the majority of mouths over west malaysia with our own resources from forestry and oil pilaged without any royalty. So, your welcome. SMILE.

This is an open conversation blog right? So I'm expressing my thoughts to you.