Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Sensintrovert's Merdeka Series (3): The Fascinating Malay Language

Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Continuing with the series after a week of mourning-hiatus, here's another (C&P) Merdeka series: The Fascinating Malay Language

Putera suka roti, mentega, teh, mi, bihun; duka dunia sengsara.

Now, now, am I talking Malay, I mean pure Malay again? Not if you searched the Wikipedia for the 'Malay language' and a whole list of bahasa pendatang asing comes in as follows:

Oopss, the word 'bumiputera' is also not 'purer than pure' Malay after all.

Well, this 'purer than pure' and 'whiter than white' controversy on the Malay language is not new. You may notice how overzealouts wanted to change the names of places, events, etc, as propagandaed by a particular Malay press recently and supported by Mr. Keris, Mr. Fashion and Language Police and Mr. I-Support-Cronyism themselves. Here are some example of the controversies, as sourced from Wikipedia:

And to make things worse, the authorities are going to fine you (and put you in jail?) if you do not speak 'purer than pure' Malay. theSun has a nice piece of editorial here.

And here's an example of Bahasa Pencemar Budaya, Bahasa Rojak, which our Mat -langs could be using at the moment:

Oh, you wouldn't want to bear to let our precioussssss Mats being prosecuted, would you?

Now, why would Bahasa Rojak happen in the first place? Wikipedia has this to say:

In modern Malaysia, Rojak Language is a highly controversial topic, as language purists accuse it was merely bad use of English and may cause a crisis in language proficiency. They fear that graduates will lack proper writing and speaking skills should the practice continue. A suggested way to avoid this perceived use of bad language is to speak pure Bahasa Malaysia in one whole sentence without other languages. This will conserve the grammar of the component language. After one sentence, the speaker may continue with another language. However for the poverty-stricken and students of rural schools, usually the only way to practice the English language is to speak to villagers. With themselves having a poor grasp of the language, it gives listeners a direct impression of Rojak Language. This is also a phenomenon that is spreading to the cities.

Oopsie, it's our dear education system again...

Boxes and arrows make me confused...

Now, what's another controversy then? Yes, the interchangeable (and also confusing) term to use for our national language. Should it be 'Bahasa Malaysia' or 'Bahasa Melayu'?

In Malaysia, the language is known as Bahasa Melayu or Bahasa Malaysia, which means the Malay, or Malaysian, language. The latter term, which was introduced by the National Language Act 1967, was predominant until the 1990s, when most academics and government officials reverted to the older term, which is used in the Malay version of the Federal Constitution.

Hey, during my primary school days (oi, I'm not that old lar), there seems to be no problems at all. Our UPSR papers used 'Bahasa Malaysia'. Not till during my secondary school years, there was a wave of Bee Emm overzealousness-who else, if not by the Mr. Reformasi himself. Wow, up came 'Bahasa Melayu' lar, bahasa baku lar, and in fact, almost the whole decade dedicated to push as an international language. That is of course when China is not an emerging economic superpower and after 1997, the rest is history. Oh, those Dewan Pelajar and Dewan Masyarakat magazine could always see his face in every issue!

Sekian sahaja untuk kali ini, terima kasih!

This post is inspired by KTemoc's post on a particular IKIM scholar saying that "The Malay language, which gives the Malays identity, comes from the Quran."

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