Penang not tickled by 'Manglish' sticker

The sticker at a traffic crossing in Light Street, Penang, was removed by the Penang Island City Council.
The sticker at a traffic crossing in Light Street, Penang, was removed by the Penang Island City Council.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

GEORGE TOWN • A prankster's sticker at a pedestrian crossing in Light Street, Penang, has triggered much amusement over its use of "Manglish".

The sticker says "press once can already", and a photo of it uploaded on Facebook generated a flood of comments in Malaysian English.

"I was very amused so I took a snapshot of it. I have many friends who are teachers and I wanted to share it with them," said The Star freelance trainer Lucille Dass, who uploaded the photo on her Facebook page.

Ms Dass said while standard English should be "just press once", the phrase on the sticker was translated from colloquial Malay or Hokkien.

She said that her post let loose a flood of Malaysian English expressions from those commenting on her post, including her former lecturer colleagues and teachers.

"There's definitely a place for Manglish. It's so much a part of our culture and a bonding factor, but as I always tell teachers, the classroom is not the place for Manglish because teachers are role models. Posting it at a traffic crossing is definitely mischief-making by a prankster," she said.

Universiti Sains Malaysia English language section lecturer Oon Sok Imm also agreed that "press once can already" is too colloquial.

When contacted, Penang Island City Council Infrastructure and Traffic Committee alternate chairman Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said putting up the sticker was an act of vandalism. "We removed the sticker the same day the issue was highlighted on Facebook," he said.

Stickers with the exact same words first appeared in Singapore thanks to urban artist Samantha Lo, who was arrested for the graffiti. Ms Lo was sentenced to 240 hours of community service, but has since made a name for herself with her art.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'Penang not tickled by 'Manglish' sticker'. Print Edition | Subscribe