Indonesian/Malay: sayang


Senior Member
Prison officer molested male inmate from China at Admiralty West jail

" .......... Twice, when he was rebuked, the married prison officer asked the inmate: "Officer sayang (love) you, why you no sayang officer?" But the inmate - who cannot be named to protect his identity - put up with the sexual abuse because he was afraid his jail term would get increased. ................"

" ............... In September, when Faris again poked the inmate with his walkie-talkie antenna, he reported sick for two days to avoid seeing the sergeant. Later that month, the court heard, Faris said "I love you" to the inmate before he touched his private parts twice. The officer then asked the inmate: "Why you no sayang officer?" The inmate replied: "If you really sayang me, you will not do that." ..............."

Are "sayang" and "cinta" interchangeable in that story/in BM and BI? :confused:
  • Yes sometimes they are interchangeable. However the two words are different.

    The exact translation for Cinta is Love in English.
    I don't think there is an English word which can define sayang, because the closest English word which means "sayang" is also "love".

    If you "sayang" someone then that someone must be dear for you. Saya sayang kucing saya... that means my cat is dear to me!
    "Sayang" is closest to "to care about" in English. Although, "sayang" isn't the exact meaning of "to care about", but the majority of native speakers and learners from any languages agree to translate "sayang" with "to care about".

    If you learn another languages besides Indonesian, maybe I could give you the exact meaning.

    I'll try in Mandarin: 爱 (cinta), 关 心 (sayang).

    Sometimes, it also could be a kind of joke in Indonesian. Example, an Indonesian made a conversation with you.
    An Indonesian: Aku sayang padamu (/aku menyayangimu/ aku sayang kamu). Would you like to be my boyfriend/ girlfriend?
    You: Aku juga sayang padamu. I agree to be your boyfriend/ girlfriend.

    When this Indonesian wants to break your both relationship and you ask him/ her the reason. But, s/he has no proper reason to do it, s/he would say: "I said to you 'Aku sayang padamu', not 'Aku cinta padamu (/ aku mencintaimu/ aku cinta kamu)'. I just love you as brother/ sister/ bestfriend. But, you misunderstood me."

    So, if an Indonesian ask you to be his/ her lover, it's better to ask him/ her. "Kamu sayang padaku? Apakah kamu juga cinta padaku?" (You care about me? Do you also love me?)

    "Cinta" also could be used for the call of lovers, to substitute the "darling, honey, sweetheart, love" in English. While "sayang", besides to call our lovers, also could be used for parents to children, older close family to younger close family, teachers of playgroup/ kindergarten/ elementary school to their students, to substitute the "dear" in English. Sometimes, it also could be used to younger close family to older close family or between friends with adding the relation term; to substitute the word "beloved" in English, like "kakakku sayang" (my beloved sister), "ibuku sayang" (my beloved mother), "temanku sayang" (my beloved friend), etc.

    As I know, Malayan prefer to use, "saya sayang kat awak/ saya sayangkan awak" than "saya cinta kat awak/ saya cintakan awak" for lovers. The second choice is more familiar to the God, parents, etc.
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