10 Hilarious Malay Tongue Twisters

Ling Learn Languages
5 min readFeb 8


Original blog post: https://ling-app.com/ms/malay-tongue-twisters/

To get a crowd roaring here is a list of 10 hilarious Malay tongue twisters to get you started!

If you ever have a problem adjusting to a new language and a new crowd, one way to impress people is by challenging them in a tongue twister! It gets the crowd roaring with laughter, especially if someone is highly confident — and fails. Here is a list of 10 hilarious Malay tongue twisters to get you started!

What Are Tongue Twisters?

A tongue twister is a deliberately tricky expression that started first in the 19th century. It was more like a diction exercise to help pronunciation and train to say different complex or similar-sounding words.

They are a set of words that have to be quickly repeated many times. Different cultures and languages have other tongue twisters, but they often have this basic rule: challenging to pronounce; must repeat!

A tongue twister has many benefits, especially since it seems you’re just having fun while saying it.

  • They help with speech muscles.
  • They help to recognize which words you need help in pronouncing.
  • They are used for warm-up exercises in speech.
  • They allow you to gain better control over the language you are learning.

About Malay Language

Malay language is spoken in several places of the world, especially Malaysia. There it’s called Bahasa Melayu. It is also spoken in Indonesia, Brunei, and Singapore. It is also spoken in East Timor, the Philippines, and parts of Thailand. The language is Austronesian and is written in Latin script. Old Malay was first spoken in the 7th to 14th centuries.

Malaysia was once ruled by the British empire. This may have had some influence in the language. English and Malay are similar. It’ll probably be like a snap if you are thinking of learning Malay through English. The script is also the same, so writing and reading should not be difficult. The only commitment you’ll have to make is time.

10 Hilarious Malay Tongue Twisters

Here is a list of very common Malay tongue twisters:

  • Kakak ku kata kuku kaki kiriku kaku; kukikis-kikis kuku kaki kiriku — My sister says that my left toenails are dirty, I scrape my left toenails
  • Babu bebal bubuh bubur bibir baba — Babu, the idiot puts the porridge unto the Baba’s lips
  • Bila Billy balik ke Bali, Billy boleh beli bola-bola — When Billy returns from Bali, Billy can buy some balls.
  • Ular lari lurus, lalu Laila lalu lalang, Laila lari lihat ular lari, lalu Laila lari lalu lorong lama — Snake runs straight, then Laila passes by, Laila ran to see the snake running, then Laila ran past the old hallway
  • Tujuh puluh tujuh buluh luruh — Seventy-seven bamboos fall
  • Buaya buaian biawak, Buaya buaian biawak, Buaya buaian biawak, Buaya buaian biawak — Crocodile lizard
  • Buaya biawak buaian, Buaya biawak buaian, Buaya biawak buaian, Buaya biawak buaian — Crocodile lizard (similar to the one above)
  • Pokok kopi, pokok kopi, pokok kopi, pokok kopi — Coffee tree
  • Cuka, kicap, Cuka, kicap, Cuka, kicap, Cuka, kicap — Vinegar, soy sauce
  • Lori lalu lalang layu, Lori lalu lalang layu, Lori lalu lalang layu, Lori lalu lalang layu — The lallang withers when the lorry passes by.
  • Tekukur ketitir, tekukur ketitir, Tekukur ketitir, tekukur ketitir — cuckoo dove turtle dove

The list includes the most famous tongue twisters in Malay language. You can see that they don’t necessarily make any sense. Several are to be repeated 4 times. This is to kind of bring up the challenge. As an English reader and Malay reader, the words are written in Latin, so go ahead and keep trying!

Examples Of Tongue Twisters In English

While learning about Malay tongue twisters, why leave the English ones out? Here are some funny and common ones of the English Language:

  • She sells seashells on the seashore.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled-pepper. A peck of pickled-pepper Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled-pepper; where are the peck of pickled-pepper Peter Piper picked?
  • Red lorry, yellow lorry.
  • The sixth sick Sheikh’s sixth sheep’s sick.
  • Better Botter bought some butter.
  • Give papa a cup of proper coffee in a copper coffee cup.

The first tongue twister has a bit of a story. It was made about a woman named Mary Anning, a fossil collector. She would look for shells on the seashore and sell them to wealthy people for an income for her family. It was originally a song from the 1900s.

A Word Of Caution

It is wonderful to be well accepted in a circle of friends, and a fantastic way to do that is to introduce a tongue twister or show off how well you can do in one. And yet — it can get very frustrating to people who cannot pull even one off!

Many successful and intelligent experts in their fields cannot say a tongue twister, especially if it makes no sense at all. They may ask: what does vinegar have to do with soy sauce; why do I have to repeat coffee tree so many times? What do I have anything to do with dirty toenails?

Based on the phrases above, they are often shaped and designed like this to infuriate others! People who cannot do well with these are often called a spoiled sport who take the fun out of something and become too serious.

Make sure you are polite and gracious, and the twisters are age appropriate if relevant.

Learn Malay With Ling

It is truly fun to know a tongue twister or two and watches reactions as someone watches you roll out a twister in their mother tongue. It is both impressive and a game-changer to be accepted as a Malay enthusiast! To help speed up your language learning process, try Ling.

Ling is a gamified language learner app for foreigners who search for the perfect language learning page but have yet to find it. Contact Ling with one click and choose an app that will tell you the rights and wrongs of how to learn Malay.

Start today!



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