Fri Apr 24 21:02:19 UTC 1998

To Paul Hopper's latest message:

> Jim's note on ordering coffee brought back memories. Maybe David Gil or
> someone can amplify, but I remember (it's been a long time) the
> following Malay paradigm:

In fact I was half way through the previous message when Paul's request

> Kopi o (I guess this is Jim's Kafei wu, as people told me the o was
> Chinese) = our black coffee (I guess it did have sugar; everything in
> Malaysia has sugar)

I'm indebted to Jim for the "crow" etymology; until then I had blindly
accepted the folk etymology offered by most Singaporeans and Malaysians
for _o_, namely that it's a "zero" for "zero milk".  (A Malay-variant of
this folk etymology has it that it's an echo of the two vowels in
_kosong_, the Malay word for "zero".)

> Kopi hitam (hitam = black/dark brown) = sort of regular coffee - a small
> amount of cream or milk

I've never heard this one, though that may be because I try to avoid those
white creamy chemicals that are referred to as _susu_ "milk".

David Gil

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