Friday, January 25, 2008

Dedicated to Melwin...:P

Hi people...Happy New Year!
Well, a lot has happened since the post about the Kedah trip. I was in Hong Kong and China and then spent Christmas in Singapore. Phew...it was a fulfilling holiday! I'll upload the photographs later coz I still don't know how to use the memory card reader. Hahaha...

Anyway, here is a piece of work that we were supposed to do in class which I told Melwin I'd upload so that we can check each other's work. You might find it weird that it looks more like a blogpost than a class work. But, the lecturer did say "write it as you would a diary!". Hehe...

Before reading the article, I used to think that it was important for one to speak correct English. I cringe whenever I used to hear mispronunciation, glaring grammatical errors or what Malaysians affectionately call “Manglish”. To me, language is beautiful. I believe that every language should be used correctly and properly, and be treated with respect and admiration rather than being butchered. Where English is concerned, speaking it correctly, to me, meant that it is spoken like a prim and proper Caucasian British (isn’t it funny that the image that normally conjures when you think of a person who speaks proper English is the image of a CAUCASIAN newsreader on BBC even though they also have many newsreaders of different races?).

Reading the article has made me reflect my perception of correct English. What is “correct English” anyway? Who decides if it is correct or incorrect? Is the Malaysian form of English not correct English? To many Malaysians, flour pronounced as /fla:/ is correct and when pronounced as /flau3/ would be thought as ‘flower’ or a mispronunciation. But that is language. It changes through time and it changes with the places it is spoken in.

Thinking back, it is ironic that I (and many other Malaysians, I think) would frown upon Manglish but accept African American English, for example, as a different form of English! But then again, I would also laugh whenever I hear people faking the accent and try to speak African American English or Australian English in Malaysia. I think it makes these “posers” sound so lame and pathetic.

But I digress. Back to the point where I mentioned that it is easy to think that English “belongs” exclusively to Caucasians. It is still difficult to remove the stereotype even after so many years of use outside of Caucasian-land and when there are millions of non-Caucasian English speakers. As mentioned in the article, many second language users of English have made it their children’s first language. This is evident in many of the Malaysian Indian and Malaysian Chinese families. And this trend is also emerging in many urban Malaysian Malay families. And that is just the case in Malaysia.

Many Commonwealth countries such as Singapore and South Africa have a majority of English speaking citizens. If these non-Caucasians who hardly spoke any other languages at all are not considered native speakers of English just because of their skin colour, then the issue is definitely RACISM.

Before I pursue on that very controversial issue, let me share another point that was made in the article which made me think: the importance of English 50 years from now. Even though many have predicted that Mandarin may become the most widely spoken language, I feel that it is unlikely. My reason is that having met Chinese nationals of different levels, the impression that I was given is that English is a high-class language that they have to strive to learn. Actually, the impression that I got was that anything Western is to be strived for. Hence, the possibility is that Mandarin would never be more popular than English because the Chinese themselves do not appreciate the language much and are willing to give up Mandarin and speak English so as to be more “high-classed”. Imagine, if my grim prediction is true, by 2050, English will probably be the main language spoken in China and many languages including Mandarin will be almost extinct! And of course, by English, I also meant the variations – Manglish, Singlish and maybe Chinglish (China-English) – and the “evolved” English.

Well, I may be too critical in my judgement. Whatever-LAH. Hah. I’ve used a Manglish term in my writing of a semi-formal assignment and it didn’t kill me. And I actually think that it makes it more friendly and distinctly Malaysian. :)

1 comment:

melwin said...

thanks!
i am famous!
hehehehe