The Magical World of Barua


For many people, the word ‘barua’ is extremely degrading, considered improper and taboo especially in a Malay society.

However, unlike it’s English cousin, f***, which is usually unprintable and is often replaced by some spelling distortion such as ‘fark’ or ‘fcuk’, ‘barua’ remains unaltered and has become one of the most popular word in Malay language.

Recently, the word ‘barua’ has made headlines thanks to a well-known politician whose name I would prefer not to mention – because he is already in a hot seat thanks to his blabber mouth.

(Disclaimer: This article makes no reference to Selangor Menteri Besar, Azmin Ali)

While many seem to think it was improper for ‘the politician’ to utter such a word, I honestly feel ‘barua’ has been widely misinterpreted especially by those who have no problem offending others but often get offended over little things especially messages sent by cute tiny blue birds.

I am unable to trace ‘barua’ to its first known occurrence in the Malay literature, yet various forms of the word, primarily in its nonliteral, slang senses, have increasingly crept into casual use in our country today.

Although its direct translation carries the meaning ‘pimp’ or ‘damn’, I believe no one should take offense of the word since it’s usage is no longer confined within its original context.

The truth is ‘barua’ is a magical word which just by its sound can describe different meanings depending on the manner it is used. It also falls into many grammatical categories.

Aside from its usual connotations, this incredible word can be used to describe many situations:

As a greeting               :           “Wazzup baruas?”

As an expression         :           “Barua, she so pretty!”

As a threat                  :           “If you barua me, be prepared to pay for it!”

As an interjection        :           “Barua! I forgot my meeting”

To show anger            :           “I’m not your barua!”

As an insult                  :           “Oi, stupid barua!”

To be victimised          :           “I got barua-ed by the cops”

To show disgust           :           “Stop being such a barua can or not?”

As a warning               :           “Don’t barua me like you did last time”

As an aggression         :           “Hey barua!”

To express fondness    :           “How the barua are you?”

To degrade                  :           “How long have you been his barua?”

Ethnic expression        :           “Yo! Barua in da house!”

To show suspicion       :           “Who the barua are you?”

As a description          :           “He’s a barua”

Discovering thyself     :           “You show your barua, I show my barua

So you see, ‘barua’ is such an incredible word, though its roots are old, but it has gone through tremendous evolution. Hence I do not understand how can anyone find a word such as remarkable as ‘barua’ as being offensive.

Perhaps what many people do not know, is that ‘barua’ is not only a Malay word – in fact its usage has gone international. Somewhere in the world, there is a lake called ‘Barua Sagar’; ethnic minority called ‘Bengali Barua’, a political party called ‘Barua’; and there’s even a page on Wikipedia dedicated to ‘Barua’.

And if you Google individuals with the name ‘Barua’ you might be surprised to find a line-up of poets, writers, professors, artists and national prize winners with the same name. Makes you wanna name you future child as one, doesn’t it? (A suggestion- you might wanna consider Khalid Baruawski – it sounds Polish)

In fact, my sixth sense tells me that this magical word is about to be sensationalized pretty soon. As such, I think our PM and his cabinet should consider naming the next government owned strategic development company as 1 Malaysia Development Baruad. I bet this time not only RM42 billion will be lost, but RM420 billion will disappear! Amazing, ain’t it?

So you see, ‘barua’ is such an awesome word. Let us not be silly and get offended by it, okay?


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