Friday, November 5, 2010

The Language of Business.

In our efforts to make Bahasa the national laguage in Malaysia, it must be appreciated that Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka is NOT the only institution involved or responsible. The schools, colleges and universities whether the medium of instruction is Bahasa or otherwise, the Government offices and business organizations are all responsible. It's not only the command of Bahasa that must be strengthened to meet the need of a developed country but also the command of other business languages particularly English, Chinese and Japanese. Spanish and French can also be of great help for going into the European, Latin American and Africa markets.

Is the Malaysians' command of Bahasa good after more than half a century of independence and more than 50 Bulan Bahasa as launched by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka? ( Cannot get the date for the first launch in spite of many write-ups about it in the Google)). I doubt the ability of even some of the Malay students to express themselves in Bahasa as fluently as as say Senator Lee Lam Thye or YB Chan Soi Lek. But more disturbing is the English being spoken by many Malaysians, what more the students. Under the pretext of fooling around with broken English, they sometimes show that they fail to grasp even the basic thing in English grammar. Thus we hear things like " I did went", " He don't care one", " I so lucky", "it no good", etc, etc. It sounds most embarrassing at times. Sometimes back we have seen that even examination papers for schools cpntained a number of grammatical errors. No wonder Government is going to import more than 370 English teachers to teach English in our schools. Local teachers don't seem to be able to produce Malaysians with a good command of the language like before. One should tune to CCTV to see and hear how the Chinese in China have mastered the English or American language.

AS for learning other languages, the urgency doesn't seem to be there. Adults begin to learn another language when their work requires them to do so. But I'm wondering why schools could not introduce other languages as a fun class, Students can do anything they want but
must speak in the language that is being introduced. Yea, yea the school time-table is already so crowded, how on earth can you introduce a fun class? This probably is what is wrong with our education system today. We've taken away all the fun from learning and we try to pump in as much 'book knowledge' into the heads of the students as possible. And we force them to learn up things by setting up examinations after examinations.

But everyone knows that problem. Until someone high up there cares it will continue to remain with us making everyone inured to it. As they say: mind over matter, if the boss doesn't mind, it doesn't matter. So let's talk about something that does matter and affects all relationships ie. marriage.


Five of us attended a wedding in Lubuk Cina, Melaka, on Saturday. We drove off in one car at about ten in the morning expecting the normal road jams and the crawling traffic from KL and therefore giving a lot of time for that. The invitation card says it begins at 12 noon and when we arrived in Lubuk Cina at 11.45 am I suggested that we kill some time so that we don't appear too early. We visited the Lubuk Cina Mosque (a beautiful place indeed), relaxed, and then approached the place again. It was already full of guests and many had already started lunch - at about 12.05. After meeting the hosts and the relatives who invited us we also joined the feasting. Boy, the food was just excellent and sumptious and most of us had a double helping.
See pics. The feasting begins
After a hefty lunch we went into the bridal chamber and found the bride still in her homely attire. about to be ready for the warpaint and the the bridal dress. The bedroom was still not ready and a photographer was waiting for the bride to be done up.
A peep into the bridal chamber

From the time we arrived. the most entertaining part of the wedding occasion was the music playing in the background and the running commentaries which were fluent, humorous and lively. Guests were welcomed, funny incidents highlighted and family members given a friendly teasing. I just couldn't resist the urge to get to know him and finally got a picture of the pleasant young MC. He was not even formally dressed but and taking things in his stride.

(See pic - The Sweet Cameralady)

As I joked around with the MC, off record certainly as he kept the music going on joyfullt, the bride appeared all dressed up and accompanied by two young and angelic bridemaids.

The Fun MC.

It was not long after that before the bridegroom came and meet the bride accompanied by
The bride appeared with two angelic and young bridemaids.

a volley of kompang beats and drums - a traditional Malay reception for the bride and groom. All present
strained their necks to have a close look at the
King and Queen of the Day ( Raja Sehari) as they appeared in a gleaming royal attire. I managed to rush to a point where I could snap them entering the well-adorned bridal arch and you can see the result. Not a very good shot but a perfect angle. What can you expect of a handphone camera! The bride is from Lubuk Cina and the groom from Kulim, Kedah. That's a long way off but "Ikan di laut, asam di darat, dalam periuk mungkin sepakat". A marriage is really made in heaven.
The bride and groom

The wedding over we travelled back to KL stopping at a birthday celebration in Senawang. In the car the wife was silent and sullen. suffering from a tummy-ache she had had since two days ago. Could be that she had eaten a little too much. Out of expectation, after chatting around with the guests at the reception, a relative saw the wifes's sullen face and commented that she could be suffering from a windy tummy. A small massage session took place in front of everyone ( See pic) Duan the masseur at work

Hehehe. She did improve and could smile and laugh after that persuading some four or five people to go for a massage at that place. In a separate room of course.....
Oh, what a day. The Language of Business involves not only languages but family business sessions.


kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
Language: Be it the language of business , commerce or diplomacy you can never go wrong on English. The spoken and written language of the Commonwealth and the US is spoken almost anywhere and everywhere under the sun.
On such a premise, mastering English is a passport to good communication that exhudes confidence on and to oneself. It is good to note of the appointment of the 370 English language teachers. It may be too little too late but it is a positive step. Time will bear witness to a wise decision.

Weddings : Do make many people cry for some reasons, whatever reasons. It seemed it is a fashion to cry, it is expected that people cry for joy or they sadly cry that their parents had passed on and not there to share the joy, the bridegroom cries as he now has to provide for a dozen more of his wife’s siblings or the bride to face up to a fierce mother in law etc etc

With the impending school holidays, the wedding season will be coming on in barely 2 week’s time. Brace yourself!

Al-Manar said...

I have spent so many years now trying to do something for the kampong children and I am truly saddened by what the ministry has done to teaching of English. It is no longer literary English - just what sounds English carrying simple messages from one person to another.

Schools around my area do not have competent English teachers. Their knowledge is just below standard.

I am sorry to disagree that the 370 odd imports will be of any good. The rot starts at the primary school level. We do not need imports. We need good local teachers. I do not believe we can really get good imported teachers who would come to do what we want them to do. I would prefer to see a set up in UK the like of the old Kirkby. That was the way the British did it to improve English in Malaya, and it worked! There are still many of these old teachers around. Old they may be but they are good. I am sure many would accept invitation to help out for as long as we need them. The imports would need time to get acclimatised. And we have to pay through the nose to keep them.

I blame DBP for 'bastardising' Malay language with English words where our own words can be exploited. Our mass media have allowed the rojak Malay , or rojak English.

It would be interesting to see how Chinese schools perform in English. I fear they are way, way ahead, the way Singapore is, yet we refuse to talk about them out of pride and arrogance. I am sorry for this long comment. But this is one subject I have been trying to do something about but the picture is so atrociously bleak.

norzah said...

Akhi Kaykuala,
As you said, there's no doubt that English has become the international business language and we just have to master it to get ahead in our pursuit of development. All would agree on that. The problem is how to make Malaysians master the language and use it proficiently and not like a caveman trying to eat with a fork and spoon. Can importing a few hundred English teachers from England solve the problem? Are the local English language teachers incapable of training our boys and girls good spoken and written English? You seem to be quite optimistic about the import of the teachers from England.
On the wedding scene, yes we'll soon be flooded with wedding invitations. I'm not sure that grooms will cry over the financial burden they have to face for wives are also working nowadays. I'm sure the bliss of matrimony will in tne long haul overcome the harzards. Not that it always ends that way.

norzah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
norzah said...

Akhi Pakcik Al-Manar,
I love it when you get emotional about a certain subject for then all the pent up emotions and bad vibes will pour out into the open. I thought i was the only one very worried and embarrassed about the English spoken and wriiten by our young - and even by some of the seniors. What kind of English are they teaching in the schools now? I think some people are taking the Japanese as an example of the fact that you don't have to speak good English to achieve development. They forget that the Japanese do speak good English grammatically-only the pronounciation is Japanised. Over here the tendency is to speak English with
a Malay /Chinese/Indian grammar but mat saleh celup accent. Good for laughs but most embarrassing when the habit becomes incorrigible.
How did the rot in our standard of English begin? I think it began in schools when young teachers with inadequate mastery of the English language were asked to teach the subject. Especially Malay graduate teachers educated through the Malay medium. We see some of them holding high positions now but making simple and embarrassing grammatical mistakes in their English speech. When the teachers speak broken English their students begin to use capchai English. That's what we seem to hear a lot of now.
So can the import of a few hundred English teachers from England solve the problem? Can a few swallows make a summer. I agree with you that there are thtousands of senior citizens with a good command of the English language who can be asked to help. As usual we always look overseas for a solution to our problem. We fail to seek
help from our own senior citizens. So, let's just see now the
Imported gurus can help.

Al-Manar said...

It is reported in today's paper 1000 retired local English teachers will be recruited. Somebody must have heard us at last!

norzah said...

Maybe many have been thinking of the same thing as we did, Akhi Pakcik, including some of the big wigs in the all-powerful education Ministry. Wheile they can be used to teach the youngsters, I think they could be more useful in retraining the young teachers who came from the Malay medium. It is my belief that the
spoilage of the command of the language started from there.

Let's see which of the two courses of action will b e acted upon first. By the way if you check the Face Book some of the Negeri9 smart ass is holding an open session for Broken English. They seem to be enjoying themselves in making their command of the language looks rediculously stupid.

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