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8 Things People Who Don’t Speak Their Mother Tongue Would Encounter

by Natasha Christopher

Conversations over at the mamak

Waiter: Tamil, you tak tahu ke? (you don’t know?)

Me: No

Worker: Tapi you Indian kan? (but you’re Indian right?)

Me: Yes

Worker shakes his head in disbelief and says “saya bukan orang India tapi boleh cakap Tamil.” (I’m not Indian but I still can speak in Tamil.)


What a show-off, right? These and the many other things I go through in life as I’m a proud Indian but clueless on how to communicate my mother tongue language. Of course, we all wish we could fluently speak.


At times it just gets the best of you and you’ll just flip the table on someone. Joking, we don’t condone violence here (well, depends). Kidding, again.

I bet most of my fellow  ‘banana’ and ‘coconut’ readers know what I’m talking about. So, let’s round it up with some of the issues we’ll encounter if we are unable to speak our mother tongue language!

  1. You’ll feel left out


Whenever you’re hanging out with a bunch of friends who speaks one language with each other and you don’t understand them, chances are you feel pretty much like an outcast in a country. Maybe a little dramatic but you get the point.

  1. People judge you


As for my story above that I encountered, the discrimination and judging stare you’ll get after you mention you can’t speak your mother tongue language is probably their version of making you feel insecure about yourself. Well, relax, it’s not like it’s the end of the world or you’re willing to teach me Tamil/Mandarin.

  1. Not qualified for a job


Requirements: For Mandarin speaker/tenant only. I bet this comes on almost advertising places you see. To be honest, doesn’t make us feel good either. Probably just for once, take a chance on us Malaysians equally, shall we?

  1. To fit in, you learn their curse words


You’re probably an expert in saying curse words in your mother tongue rather than those who actually speak the language itself.

  1. They’ll laugh at you when you try to speak


We all want to fit in and learn our mother tongue language, but when we do, they’ll often tease us and tell us to not disgrace your race/community. Such a real c&%*i and p#*&^k.

  1. So, ending using one word and sticking to it


You stick to your comfort zone and prevent from people laughing at you further.

  1. Sign language FTW


What’s a better way to communicate when you’re travelling overseas rather than using your own version of sign language. 

  1. Google translate is your best friend


Confirm most of you have done this before! Don’t deny it.
At the end of the day, whether we can speak our mother tongue language or not, it’s the beauty of Malaysia that unites us through our rojak-ness and our ability to share culture with each other. 

What are some of your experiences when dealing with this issue? Share with us!

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