The Brits have their “Blimey!”
The Americans have their “Oh my God/ goodness!”
Us Malaysians, we prefer “Alamak!”
Similar to Blimey and OMG!, Alamak is an expression of dismay, surprise or alarm. Although, it’s actually pretty versatile and can be used in a variety of situations other than when you’re in dismay, surprised or alarmed.
The origins of ‘alamak’ is sort of hazy. Some sources indicate that this expression is actually a combination of two words “alaa” (oh) and “mak” (mother). And there are other sources that say that it’s actually a Japanese word! Totally not buying that.
Anyway, when should you use ‘alamak’? Well, I’ll most likely use the expression in the following situations:
After a torrential rainfall, I’ll go out and discover that my garden is flooded and the cats have resorted to swimming to access their food in the non-flooded area. I’ll exclaim “Alamak!” In this instance, the expression is used to express shock.
After sending my dog to obedience school and I wake up in the morning to find that my precious shoes have been mutilated by the cute puppy I brought home, all I can say is “Alamak…” In this situation, this expression is used to express dismay and also regret at the amount of money spent on sending the cute puppy to obedience school.
So, next time, when you hear someone in your neck of the woods exclaim “Alamak!”, it’s entirely likely that you’re in the woods with a Malaysian 🙂