WE see the exhortations of so many Malaysians in the media promoting the English language. “Words, words, words”, as Shakespeare’s Hamlet would say.
We are all aware that English is the official language of air transport and shipping, the pioneer language of science, technology, computers and commerce as well as the top medium of education, publishing and international negotiation.
As our economy develops, it is clearly a big plus point to learn international languages such as English, and to maintain Bahasa Malaysia and other ethnic languages.
Such linguistic abilities will be critical to preserving diversity and economic-cum-cultural advancement. We are also aware that the quality of English is deteriorating, yet we seem powerless to prevent its slide.
What must we do to reverse it? In this respect, we must take the cue from two outstanding sons of Malaysia: the sultan of Johor and the chief minister of Sarawak.
The sultan has a unique relationship with his subjects and he minced no words when he declared that we should emulate prosperous Singapore and make English the medium of instruction in our schools.
Tan Sri Adenan Satem may seem self-effacing and mild mannered, but behind that veneer is a man with an indomitable will and vision.
He said that the “Chinese brothers and sisters in Sarawak are not pendatang and that they are just as Malaysian — and loyal — as anyone else”.
He had the courage to make English the second official language of the state, stating he being “realistic” and that “as long as we are on Earth, we must learn and master English”.
Pointedly, he added: “Even those living in Mongolia learn English.” We can bring from foreign countries the best English teachers and pay them handsomely to tutor our students, but it would be to no avail.
The principle underlying mastering the language is “use it or lose it”. If English were made the second official language, its mere usage in official correspondence would make all citizens proficient in it.
Dr A. Soorian, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Home News Opinion You Write 10 MAY 2016 @ 11:00 AM
Wrong use of words changes their meanings
MANY Malaysians are butchering the English language. Many times, the meanings and the grammar of some words are ignored totally.
Often, English words are wrongly spelt and this was seen on some banners and posters posted by candidates in the recent Sarawak election.
Malaysians, especially those in broadcasting and journalism (Malay section), are fond of changing the meanings of English words when they are used as “Malay words”.
Here are some other examples:
Jury (juri) — a panel of the jury: a group of people who listen to the facts of a case in a court and decide whether or not somebody is guilty of the crime. Juror: a member of the jury.
Jury (2) — A group of people who decide on the winner of a competition.
Judge (hakim) — a person who decides who has won a competition.
When we watch talent or reality shows produced in the United States or the United Kingdom, such as The Voice, America Has Talent and American Idol, for example, the group of people who listen and watch the contestants and who decide on the winner are “judges”.
Here, in reality shows such as Kilauan Emas, Raja Lawak Mega and Akademi Fantasia, for example, we have “juries”. We also have “juri professional” (professional juries).
The question is: “Aren’t juries all professionals who are nominated from amongst the professionals in a particular industry?”
Preference should be to use hakim (judge) and not juri (jury) to make it consistent with the meaning of the word and the duties of those people who judge the contestants.
MCs announce, “Let the judges decide” and never, “Let the juries decide”.
Another word is symbol (simbol), a noun meaning a person, object, event or etc that represents a more general quality or situation.
When used in Malay, the sentence we normally see is: “Warna merah, biru dan kuning digunakan sebagai simbolik negara kita”.
The original word “symbol” is a noun but somehow, in Malay, the adjective “symbolic” is used.
Here are some examples of headlines from a Bahasa Malaysia newspaper all using simbolik (symbolic), an adjective, in a sentence as follows:
“Simbolik batal pantang tanah” (symbol for land taboo).
“Pesawat Jepun simbolik hubungan JSDF, TUDM” (Japanese aircraft used as a symbol for JSDF, TUDM relationship).
“Periuk, sudip simbolik bantah harga barang naik” (Pots, used as a symbol to protest against price rise of consumables)
Simbolik (symbolic) is an adjective; therefore, all the sentences above in Malay are the wrong uses of the word “symbol” (noun).
Using “to” (hingga) instead of “and” (dan) with “between” (di antara) is common in Malay speech or written sentences in Malay.
As an example, we see or hear, “Di antara Kuala Lumpur hingga ke Ipoh” instead of “Di antara Kuala Lumpur dan Ipoh” or “Di antara pagi hingga ke petang” and not, “Di antara pagi dan petang”..
However, when it comes to indicate “time”, the prefix “di” is not as in “… antara jam satu tengahari dan dua petang”.
“Myth” is translated as “mitos”, which sounds more like “mythology”.
Mitos Peribumi Malas by Syed Hussein Alatas is one example. It should be, Pribumi malas adalah satu pendapat yang tidak betul. So, the use of “mitos” in Malay to mean “a fallacy” or “something that is not true” is wrong.
Here is what the dictionary says about the word “myth”.
Myth (1) meaning: a story from ancient times, especially one that was told to explain natural events or to describe the early history of a people;
Myth (2) meaning: something that many people believe but that does not exist or is false (a fallacy).
This version of “myth” should be translated to Malay as pembohongan or penipuan, karut, pendapat yang tidak betul or kepercayaan yang tidak pernah berlaku.
Words related to “myth”.
Mythic: somebody/something (sb/sth) that has become very famous, like sb/sth in a myth (legendary); that does not exist or is not true (fictitious).
Mythical: existing only in ancient myths.
Mythological: connected to ancient myths.
Mythology: something that many people believe but that does not exist or is false.
Mythos (noun, plural mythoi [mith-oi, mahy-thoi): the underlying system of beliefs, especially those dealing with supernatural forces, characteristic of a particular cultural group.
Myth (noun): a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.
Mythology (noun, plural mythologies): a body of myths, as that of a particular people or that relating to a particular person (Greek mythology).
Another common mistake is the wrong use of “protocol” when “etiquette” is meant.
Just because local comedians used protokol to describe the arrangement of plates, forks, knives and spoons for a formal dinner and the procedure to use those cutlery (the term should be “etiquette”), others also follow.
“Protocol” is used when referring to dignitaries such as kings, presidents and prime ministers, and making seating arrangements and forms of address.
Hussaini Abdul Karim, Shah Alam, Selangor NST Home News Opinion You Write 10 MAY 2016 @ 11:01 AM