Thursday, December 7, 2006

English To Manglish?

Malaysia is a land of paradoxes. Chinese ladies in short skirts walk the streets side by side with Malay Muslims wearing the ubiquitous Islamic headscarf. To gaze on the ultra-modern Petronas Towers in downtown Kuala Lumpur, you could hardly imagine that this is the same country where sleepy fishing villages dot the coast.
When it comes to language, there are even more surprises in store.The Manglish.

Manglish grammar has its own unique set of rules. For example, the use of already, “He go home already.”
My mechanic once told me, “Your engine no good already.” Except he pronounced it, “oledi.”
Then, there is the famous “can or not?” as in, “You borrow to me five dollars, can or not?” Once in a restaurant, I ordered “a coffee and an orange juice, too.” When I was served one cup of coffee and two glasses of orange juice, I wondered what had happened. Later, I overheard how the locals ordered their drinks: “Coffee, one. Orange juice, two.”
Another important aspect of Manglish is the use of “lah.”
“Lah” does not have any actual meaning, but Malaysians like to pepper their sentences with it:
“Why you so like that, lah?”
“No lah.”
“So I told him lah that he cannot go lah.”Malaysians scored a victory a couple of years ago when “lah” was introduced into the official Oxford English Dictionary. They were slightly less happy to see that the entry listed its usage as Singaporean English.
You see, Singapore, has its own version of English, known as Singlish, which is very similar to the Malaysian variety.English is only one of the many languages that a visitor will hear in Malaysia. There is Bahasa Malaysia, also known as Bahasa Melayu or simply Bahasa, as well as a number of Chinese dialects including Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and Teochew. You’ll also hear several Indian languages such as Tamil and Punjabi.Malaysians have a habit of mixing two or more of these languages together when they speak, sometimes even in one sentence. So, don’t be surprised if you hear sentences like these:“Aiyo, the lif is rosak already! Mari-lah, we use the stairs one.”
This translates to: “Oh no! The elevator is out of order. Come, let’s use the stairs.”English has particularly affected Bahasa Malaysia in the form of loan words.
For example, “makhlumat,” which means information, is not used often anymore. Instead, the loan word, “informasi” is gaining in popularity.
There is “bas” for bus, “rileks” or “rilek” for relax, and “restoran” for restaurant.
English loan words are especially common in technology and science. Therefore, you’ll hear the wordds “teknologi” and “sains.”
Recently, a billboard proudly described a new notebook computer as featuring “teknologi wayarles”, or wireless technology.
These loan words are very popular with the younger “generasi.”Bahasa has many different words for “I” and “you”, but speakers in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, still find room for these English words in their speech.
In this way, “I love you” can be expressed as “I sayang you”, and one might also ask, “You sayang I?” Tourists need not worry too much, though. Although they may hear some pretty strange things while they are there, a good command of English is enough to ensure that they will not be in a situation where they are stuck with no way to communicate.
In fact, just like visitors to Jamaica, they are likely to be charmed by the unique way the language has evolved here. It is quite likely that they’ll pick up a bit of the local lingo while they are here and if they choose to stay on a little while longer, they are sure to wake up one day to find themselves speaking Manglish.English has been in Malaysia since the colonial days, although Manglish is a relatively new development.
Recently, there has been much lament in the Malaysian media about the decline in the standard of English in the country. There have been government campaigns and Science and Mathematics in schools will now be taught in English.
Although the government, unlike Singapore, has not yet taken an official stand against non-standard usage, one gets the feeling that Malaysians will not give up their Manglish that easily lah.

::taken from Emile Alexander Dodds 'From Manglish to English'.

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