Don’t you just love the word play in the media?

Take this one from The Economist (10/9/11) entitled “The haze and the malaise”.

It’s obviously a play on words: Malays and malaise.

So, dear me, what’s the definition of “malaise”?

malaise (mæˈleɪz)
— noun
1. a feeling of unease or depression
2. a mild sickness, not symptomatic of any disease or ailment
3. a complex of problems affecting a country, economy, etc: Bulgaria’s economic malaise

[C18: from Old French, from mal bad + aise ease]

So what are the good people at The Economists implying?

Since we’re at it, what then is the definition of “Malays”?

Ma·lay   [mey-ley, muh-ley]
– adjective
1.of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a racially intermixed people who are the dominant population of the Malay Peninsula and adjacent islands.
2. of or pertaining to the language or culture of these people.
– noun
3.a member of the Malay people. Austronesian language of Malaysia and Singapore, differing from Indonesian only in orthography.

That’s one chosen from random from the many available and I’m sure not everyone will agree on this definition. After all, the definition is politically charged in Malaysia.

Are they malaise?

The idea here is not to invite comment on any correlation, imagined or real, between the two quite separate words. After all, they’re spelled different and have completely different origins.

What’s interesting for me is this play on words.

Or is it?