bahasa melayu, an international language?

note: Bahasa Melayu (previously known as Bahasa Malaysia, or Malay language) is the national language of Malaysia.
Just a few weeks ago (or was it just last week, i can’t recall), The Star reported that the government was considering a project to promote Bahasa Melayu (or Malay languange) as an international language. i was horrified with this. we are still struggling to promote Malaysia as a country in the international arena, and it is shameful, however, that not all graduates have a good command of the English language. there are many who are unable to carry out a full conversation in English. i have had many occasions where i speak to a contemporary in English, to be responded in Malay or Mandarin. so i switch to Malay or Mandarin for the convenience of my contemporary. I admit it is difficult for me, as my Mandarin is not perfect. but hey, i’m happy to get the chance to practise it. (but why are some reluctant to practise speaking English to improve?)
Bahasa Melayu as an international language? hmmm. will we be able to succeed? or will we be as snobby as the French who are unable to assist lost tourists because they cannot speak English? (this is based on my experience in Paris years ago. perhaps they are much better now, i’m not too sure.)
Imagine a few years ago, when the government was concerned with the deterioration of English in the younger generation, so the Ministry of Education made the move to have Science and Maths taught in English. there was a struggle during the initial change, wasn’t there? but how much did it help to improve the children’s English?
Anyway, my frustration is this: Bahasa Melayu is no longer unique as it was when it was Bahasa Malaysia. remember when we were hammered with the use of ‘bahasa baku’ for our oral exams? urgh, it was tough.
Bahasa Melayu is simplified – change the spelling of the English words and taa-daa, you have a Malay word!

Examples (from English to Malay):
Actress – Aktress (i remember it used to be pelakon wanita)
Budget – Bajet
Campaign – Kempen
Concept – Konsep
Communication – Komunikasi
Edition – Edisi
Element – Elemen
Ideal – Ideal
Landscape – Lanskap
Response – Respon
Squad – Skuad
Version – versi

Now everyone can speak Malay too! when in doubt, think of the english word and add a Malaysian twang to it or something. (wait a minute, if we’re always stealing English words, how come the Malaysians’ English language isn’t improving?)
Anyway, this is just my 2 sen worth, albeit a bit jumbled up. i’m just wondering, it must be easier to score an A for Bahasa Melayu in SPM now, right? no? ;P
Malay (Bahasa Melayu)
The Star Online: View Post – April 19, 2006 June 22, 2006

28 thoughts on “bahasa melayu, an international language?”

  1. sigh…malay goverment mentallity…they cannot speak good english..and they’re trying to do this pulak…wuts in it for them? pride? all they get is shame i can tell u…its not even making our country good or’ll become worst.
    For Example : if 1 malay guy who is not good in english will blame “argh..bahasa mat salah bodoh..apa kita cakap lagi baik” then when they promote our B.Melayu to country like US…its their turn to say smth back “argh…Malay Lingo is suked..i rather speak our own english languange”…except for the american’s side..they dun need to promost english cause its already an international languange.

  2. onli 1 thing i can comment a small country with useless goals.. which the score will definately be nil..

  3. SPM bahasa melayu now is waaaaaaaay harder la compared to past years.We now have to learn malay literature which i’m sure you guys didnt have to.

  4. Thrillseeker: which one small country? eheheh. my geography very bad. the one with less lengchais? ;P
    AvalonDevil: SO CLOSE!!!! sheeeeeeeeet.. ;P uhm, i fell asleep before Germany scored and woke up to watch the penalty shoot out.
    jo lene: bahasa klasik? we had that too! beta ampunkan patik? ;P if i met our King i’d prolly forget what to say. ;D

  5. This issue will never ever end in our generation. Its too complicated and the damage has already been done the last few decades. I agree, english is so poor among Malaysians that this is the number one feedback we get from lecturers of foreign universities.

  6. bahasa melayu to be international language? wat a big joke. who e heck wan 2 use it apart from perhaps indonesia n brunei? it is not onli borrowing from english; they borrow from everywhere – arabic, sanskrit, portugese, dutch, spanish, chinese dialects. therefore, i dunno why u r so proud of tis language when many words were copied.
    let’s b sensible. first step is 2 finalize all the spellings, grammar n vocabulary 1st. i wonder how many more hundred of years does it take b4 they finalize everything.

  7. bimbo : “panas salju”(not salji) is a malay literature book…dunno form wut ade…but we have to study tat to do exams..well tat is only 1 of the book…few more to be studied also for spm..heck i din bother to read last time lol…

  8. it all starts from home. If a child is brought up speaking Mandarin + English + “any other chinese dialects”… they can master it well when they reach primary education. My cousin sister.. aged 8 commands fluent Mandarin and English both written and spoken. She speaks BM with the maid.
    They trying to promote BM to be international language? Really, i’m not aware of it and like you, i too agree thats rubbish.
    Spanish, French and Mandarin make a better contender… in terms of usage. But to think of having 2 international language.. isn’t it kinda stupid.

  9. hmm…
    element – unsur
    response – jawapan
    Well, the need to promote the Bahasa Melayu as an international languange is acutely important because many people are just substituting english words for melayu by just (as you have noted) changing the spelling and pronounciation..
    how convenient!

  10. malaysia has always been ambitious, which is good, but how far have we gone, and can we go?
    AH LOK KOR: do you think some of the graduates care? they just think the foreigners are being stuck up. which is ridiculous. if the government do not continue to push the students in local universities to improve their English, they will always remain content that Malaysia will make whatever changes to suit their capabilities.
    DieHardX: aiks, must be proud what, except that now probably some Indonesians speak better Malay than us. Bahasa Indonesia sounds sweeter to the ears though. ;D
    AvalonDevil: hmmm. i don’t remember. mebbe my school was too poor to provide us with that book.
    endroo G: i know someone who couldn’t speak Mandarin until she was in Form 1. because some of the classmates were from bridge/remove class, she just picked up from there. irrespective of whether it begins from home, it also depends on the initiative of the person. don’t tell me some people who are posted in a foreign country, let’s say, for 6 months, and refuse to pick up part of the language? wouldn’t that person be considered ……………………. ‘damn clever’ for words?
    galFeRari: exactly. easy peasy, man. except the bahasa klasik part la. ;P

  11. Endroo G: I whole heartedly agree with you. It starts with the environment and nurturing. Perhaps, I should force myself to stay in China for a few months. I wonder if I can give english tuition there πŸ™‚ then I can improve my pathetic mandarin.
    Bimbo: Yup, most of the students are to blame as well. Attitude problem. They need the right assertion that English is important. Until the government and people realises this, well, I for one am glad my parents brought me up with english.

  12. borrowing words from other languages is very common in many languages. english itself borrowed many words from other languages i.e. other european languages. even the japanese borrowed many words from other languages. what i am trying to say is that there is nothing wrong with borrowing words frm other countries. at least we dont change things like “Brad Pitt” to “BraPi” (the Japs did that)

  13. AhLokKor: no need force yourself to stay in China ler… so many chinadolls around here and go get one lar. Speak Mandarin to them… haha.
    bimbo: yes… initiative is another factor, another thing that plays a big part. What I tried to say was kids pick up language very fast. So if you want your kid to speak fluent English, Mandarin, BM, Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese, Tamil or even German…. start at the age of 2-4. Start from home. By the way, the Banglas speak better BM than some Malaysian Chinese or Indians. Ampun beribu-ribu ampun.
    xes: English also borrowed word from chinese >> ” kowtow” !

  14. Panas Salju was for form 3.Some of you wouldn’t know about these malay literature stuff ‘cos it was only implemented in 2000…

  15. Even now they said there’s some inaccuracy in Sejarah Melayu (by Tun Sri Lanang).
    Hang Tuah was actually a chinese who came to Melaka with the Admiral Cheng Ho. Puteri HANG Li Po. They all have the Hang.
    They pulled the book off the shelves?

  16. Luxifer: please refrain from making racist comments and comments attacking our politicians. we do not tolerate racism here and also I do not want to be held responsible for comments attacking anyone.
    as such, your comment will be deleted.

  17. AHLOKKOR: aHAHHAHA.. i was thinking of going to China to study Mandarin! ;P to experience the culture there also la, for fun.
    peggy: not blaming the government la. it goes both ways, the government and the citizens. however, what i’m trying to say is, the government can be applauded for being ambitious with their new dreams for the country, but starting on a new dream when the older dreams have not been achieved… does not set a good example. Vision 2020 and etc. ;P
    xes: haha, i thought you were going to complain about doing translation. the next time you better not complain la. ;P
    endroo G: history of one’s country has always been amended (technically, goes off-track and dramatised) to create heroes to reflect and encourage patriotism.

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