08 November 2011

naik minyak

In Malay, we often find calques ('loan translations') from English. Examples include: kenderaan pacuan empat roda ('four wheel drive vehicle'), mengambil peperiksaan ('take an exam'), sestiausaha tetap ('permanent secretary'), and many, many more.

But sometimes calques come from other languages. In this respect, I was interested in the following headline from page 1 of the Media Permata of 9 November 2011, at the top of a news report about a buffalo that declined to participate in the Hari Raya Aidiladha sacrifice and ran wild instead, causing all kinds of mayhem.Literally, it says 'Buffalo increases oil', but the naik minyak part looks suspiciously like it comes from the Chinese expression 加油 (jiā-yóu, 'add oil'), which is used to refer to a sudden increase in energy, for example for a team that needs an extra spurt of effort in order to win a game.

I don't know if naik minyak really does come from the Chinese expression; but it looks rather likely.