Hijacking Bahasa Melayu
By MOHD HAFIZ NOOR SHAMS
Have you read a classic joke about the official language of the European Union?
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German which was the other possibility.
As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phase-in plan that would be known as “Euro-English.”
In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c.” Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of the “k.” This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like “fotograf” 20 percent shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be ekspekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent “e”s in the language is disgraseful, and they should go away.
By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v.” During ze fifz year, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou” and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.
After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru! And zen world!
Are you laughing already?
If you are, then you are laughing at the Malaysian national language too. The future of Bahasa Melayu is similar to the hypothetical Euro-English.
I must admit, I haven’t been writing and reading in Malay for quite some time now. For the last four years, despite being Malay, I have blogged in English, done reports in English, read news pieces in English and probably even dreamt in English too. I was in an American school and I had little use for proper written Malay. As of right now, I struggle to write in Malay.
Subsequently, I told myself if I couldn’t write proper Malay, I would be a laughing stock. Not wanting to be known as, if I may, a “Malay Banana,” I set myself upon a mission. My mid-year resolution was to read Malay articles.
Upon rediscovering the Malay world, certain imported words came up. First, it was “previu.” After that, “bajet” came up out of nowhere. Later, the word “polemik” came to surface. As if those words aren’t enough, like rabbits, a whole gamut of them started to jump out from their burrows. One naughty rabbit is called “akauntabiliti.” Another impeccable furball is known as “integriti.” That black rabbit is named “transparensi.” And don’t forget, our little cuties – “profil,” “kontroversi,” “emosi,” “posisi,” “cif,” “propisi,” “kondisi” and “ambisi.” And who knows what else in the store.
An explosion of rabbit population is usually a bad thing. I asked myself, are these legit words? Are these words actually Malay?
The answer seems to be yes, and to me, this is more disturbing than seeing Malaysians freely hugging each other in public.
I do understand that this new stream of imported words is an effort to enrich the language vocabulary. I understand the need for such importation. After all, crude Malay translation for the noun joystick – amusingly, “batang ria” – would not be one of the most well-refined word in the language history. Yet, massive importation is slowing transforming our national language into a kind of pseudo-English.
This evolution is detrimental to our language. It is a path that we as Malaysians – or it could just be me – will regret when it is all too late to turn back.
Hence, I’m appealing to all that are reading this – please, please do not use “bajet” in place of “belanjawan.” Do not reject “cita-cita” in favor of “ambisi.” The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. And please, there is nothing Malay about infotainment as much as there is nothing English about Euro-English.
And if you haven’t realised already, open up your eyes fellow countrymen. Somebody is hijacking our national language. Wake up Malaysians. Rise up!
“Sedarlah kawan-kawan. Sedarlah! Dikala kita menjerit Merdaka jam 12 malam pada 31 Ogos, suatu hari nanti, kita akan bersorak independen! Independen! Independen! Atau mungkin sekali, fridom! Fridom! Fridom! Kemudian, kita mungkin sekali akan menikmati kentang fridom.”
Or, we could just switch to English right now and not bother ourselves with the Malay language any longer.
After all, Hishamuddin Hussein recently said that English is Malaysian, a few days after waving the kris in the name of Malay supremacy.
MOHD HAFIZ NOOR SHAMS is a contributing writer for theCICAK.