11 January 2011

"owh bah"

It seems that lately I've been getting more and more of this response, "owh bah", from friends, family members and even students. It's a good thing that I know how to interpret the intended meaning. Otherwise, it could lead to a major miscommunication. Especially when the response is in the form of text message. One might accidentally interpret the expression as a lukewarm answer (read: I'm not interested), which could possibly be one of the intended meanings anyway. As of now, I've come to the conclusion that "owh bah" can mean the following, and more:

1. Ok -an acknowledgement of one's statement
2. Sure - mostly in response to one's request. Could be that this bears no urgency at all (I'll do it later), or a polite indicator that the person has understood the request and will act on it accordingly.
3. Dismissal - seemingly to acknowledge one's statement or request but actually quietly dismissing it

As regards (3), I remember an incident that happened last year. The bushes by the roadside accros the road of my housing area was on fire. It was a hot day and the fire was spreading fast, at that point, moving towards the traffic light posts. I quickly dialled 999 and reported the fire. To my horror, the operator who answered my call simply said, "owh bah. Banyak-banyak sudah orang yang telefon ni" (Ok, there have been quite a number of people calling), which of course, earned him a hysterical "jadi, kenapa belum ada tindakan?!!!!" (so, why hasn't there been an action?!!!) from me.

Well, "owh bah" is an interesting expression indeed.


Small Kucing said...

interesting...i know the word "bah" means OK or yes but didnt know about Ow Bah

Tina said...

Ow bah, interesting! (I'm responding to Small Kucing.) I've heard this expression but always thought only the Tatana and Bisaya/Brunei use this... to indicate agreement.
It's a hot day!
Ow bah, panas betul!

azamain said...

the evolution of catch words or slangs ?

Verone said...

I guess it is indeed an innovation in use. 'Bah' in the beginning, which becomes 'owh bah' due to contact with other communities. The interesting bit is, not sure which communities borrow from which :) although as Tina mentioned, one of the 'owners' of the phrase is the Sabah Brunei community.