Saturday, 9 March 2013

Mind Your Language (Oh My English)

While the government and various parties are still quarreling over making English as Compulsory to pass in SPM (Malaysian Education Certificate) , lets deviate and talk about another related issue – the Manglish vs. English 

Manglish is our Malaysian take on the English language, with added flavours of exotic words and syllables. They are one-of-a-kind and unique, but is it in a good way?

Obviously, sentences like these totally confuse any visiting foreigners, but to Malaysians they somehow make perfect sense. So is Manglish a useful communication tool or does it prevent Malaysians speaking English properly?

The Malaysian government hasn’t taken a strong stance, unlike the Singaporean government, which is trying to ban ‘Singlish’. Therefore, to help you decide whether to embrace Manglish or not, we present the Pro and Con between Manglish and English:

* It sounds ‘fake’ for Malaysians to speak proper English
Many Manglish speakers worry that if they talk properly, their friends will think that they are putting on airs. ‘Why you tok liedat ah?’(Why you talk like that?) ‘You ting you are a Mat Salleh, is it?’ (You think that you are Caucasian, is it?)

*If you speak proper English, many Malaysians won’t understand
After all, there are many people in Malaysia who have an extremely limited grasp of English. If you use bombastic words and phrases (like ‘bombastic’), they will not understand. So to be understood, you need to speak Manglish.

 * Manglish isn’t even English
Manglish can be classified as a pidgin or creole language, a simplified form of English mixed with Malay and Chinese, which is becoming (or has become) a separate language from standard English.

* Speaking Manglish makes you sound uneducated
“That one no good oledi!” How are you supposed to impress people if you walk about saying things like that? At a job interview, you will die-lah.What happens if you have business overseas with foreigners? They will all laugh at the way you speak. It’s not that difficult to speak properly with a bit of effort, so why sound uneducated?

* Language is a communication tool
The purpose of language is to communicate. Manglish actually helps people to communicate better because it is easier to understand. Even in the world of business, people give presentations and write reports in Manglish.

* Manglish prevents Malaysia from being competitive
The reason the Malaysian government encourages the use of English is to boost the nation’s competitiveness. However, Manglish has exactly the opposite effect. For example, call centres in Cyberjaya are shutting down and moving to other countries because overseas callers are fed up with hearing ‘no-lah’ and ‘ya-lah’ when they call up with a technical problem. Meanwhile, Countries like Thailand, Korea and China are succeeding in raising the level of English over there.

* It’s better to speak broken English than not speak English at all
People who speak Manglish are trying their best. Just because their English isn’t perfect, you shouldn’t judge them. After all, the Government is trying to improve the standard of English in the country and everyone needs to do their part.

* Even if Manglish is okay for spoken English, it is not appropriate for written English
It is not realistic to use words like ‘oledi’ and ‘liedat’ in written English Imagine what the newspapers would be like if the whole country could only understand Manglish!

* If you learn Manglish, you will never improve your English
Once you get into the habit of speaking broken English, it is really difficult to speak proper English. It’s better to learn correct English from scratch.

* To communicate effectively, you need to speak properly
Manglish is a simplified form of English. To express yourself well, you need to understand the nuances and subtleties of English. Imagine if Shakespeare had spoken Manglish. Instead of ‘Romeo, wherefore art thou?’ it would be ‘Eh, Romeo, you where-ah?’

* Malaysians have a right to speak their own kind of English
In America, people speak American English. In Australia, people speak Australian English. What’s wrong with Malaysians speaking Malaysian English? After all, every country has its own slang and accent. For example, Americans say cellphone, Brits say mobile phone and Malaysians say hand phone. What’s wrong with that? 

* Manglish has become part of Malaysian culture and heritage
Manglish has become something we can be proud of. Why try to hide it? It’s part of our cultural heritage. And it’s something that all Malaysians can participate in, no matter which ethnicity. Muhibbah! Plus tourists think it’s cute when they hear people saying lah all the time 

Our American cousins across the pond, tend to churn out at least 10 new English words every year. Many are so specific to the USA that they are simply known as Americanisms. Many English language purist's, think that all of the above, as a kind of language abuse. 

The truth is that this is actually the forge fire of the new English of the world. Singlish, Manglish and all the other influences continue to enrich the English language. In order for English to continue to evolve, it needs to adapt and adopt regional words and phrases. English is a global language and is enriched by diversity.

Note: I speak Manglish in Australian English environment

1 comment:

  1. kangaroo fuckers english is a cancer to english itself