A Jar of Minds

Collecting thoughts in a container

Speak Indonesian Like a Sundanese: mah

Continuing the series, we have previously discussed a commonly used particle téh. Now I will add another similar particle which is also commonly used in Sundanese dialects: mah. This particle is not unique to Sundanese, as we also often hear it from other dialects.

1. Subject Indicator

Similar to téh, mah is also used to indicate subject. The formula is also the same:

Subject + mah + (Verb)

What makes mah different is that this particle is used to emphasize a contrast, opposite, or negative situation of the context.

Examples

Formal Informal Sundanese Dialect Meaning
Ini adalah cangkir. Sedangkan itu adalah gelas. Ini cangkir. Itu gelas. Ini téh cangkir. Itu mah gelas. This is a cup. That is a glass.
Ini bukanlah mangga. Ini bukan mangga. Ini mah bukan mangga. This is not a mango.
Dia memang seperti itu. Dia sih gitu orangnya. Dia mah gitu orangnya. He is always like that.
Kalau begitu bisa merepotkan. Kalo gitu sih bisa repot. Kalo gitu mah bisa berabe. If that’s the case, it would be complicated.
Saya tidak pergi ke sana. Saya gak ke sana. Saya mah gak ke sana. I don’t go there.

Quiz

Could you tell the difference between these two sentences?

  1. Ini téh gula, itu mah garam.
  2. Ini mah gula, itu téh garam.

2. Conditional Sentence

mah can also be used for conditional sentence. English equivalent for this is if sentence.

Formula:

(Condition) + mah + (Sentence)

Examples

Formal Informal Sundanese Dialect Meaning
Jika harganya mahal, tidak perlu dibeli. Kalo mahal, gak usah beli. Kalo mahal mah gak usah beli. If the price is expensive, no need to buy it.
Jika saja cuaca cerah, saya akan pergi. Kalo cuaca cerah, aku akan pergi. Kalo cuaca cerah mah aku akan pergi. If the weather was good, I would go.

It’s easy, isn’t it? Now if you happen to visit Bandung, Bogor, Cianjur, or other cities in West Java, try using these particles!