Sunday, January 13, 2013

Manglish (Malglish/Mangled English) - English Based Creole Spoken in Malaysia

Mangling the language
We encounter Manglish every day, but do we have to tolerate it?

C’MON lah you all, can you all faster decide lah.” This was part of a dialogue in a kopitiam TV commercial. Hearing locals speaking like this is now very common.

Welcome to the very interesting and intriguing world of Manglish.

Malaysia is, as everyone already knows, a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-custom and multi-cultural country and one can always tell which community a person belongs to from the way he or she speaks.

Alamak, ayoyo, adoi, apa nama, apa ni, alah, alahai etc, and suffixes mah, kan, one, and the perennial and lovable lah are now almost always heard in Manglish.

“Please” is rather selfishly used. Why? I am not sure.                    

One-word sentences are also heard often when Manglish is used: “can”, “cannot”, “go”, “come”, and short phrases, questions and sentences such as “Can or not?”, “Want or don’t want?”, “Go or not?”, “Come or not?”, “Also can one”, etc. However, some of these examples, such as “go” and “come”, are perfect when used as sentences on their own as far as English is concerned.

“On the switch” (Please put on the switch), “Off the switch” (Please put off the switch), and “Keep and touch” (Keep in touch) are some instructions and phrases we commonly hear too, especially amongst young people. Changing the middle word in the last expression from “in” to “and” has remained from the early 80s and must have been due to the failure of our young people to understand the “accent” of native speakers, hearing the “in” as “and”.

“Open”, “closed” and “sale” are words commonly used in notices and advertisements and many use them wrongly by adding “ed” to open, omitting the “ed” from closed or adding an “s” to sale. Regardless of the number of stores in a shopping complex offering lower prices on their goods, it should be “year-end sale” and not “year-end sales”.

English words are also mixed with Malay. “Suasana glam” was used at the recent Anugerah Industri Muzik by MC Awal Asyari to refer to the glamorous event. Other non-Malay terms that celebrities like to use include: All right, right on, clubbing, yamcha, fashion, speed, photo shoot and location.

For some reason, youngsters, and some adults, like to use long sentences in Manglish. You can see examples of these on Facebook.

Radio ERA runs a very popular and delightfully funny series hosted by the effervescent Aznil Hj Nawawi on weekday mornings. It’s called Can I Help You?

The concept of the show is that it makes pranks calls to unsuspecting people (their numbers are supplied by friends) to ask about products and services. This is done in impeccable English and with a British accent by someone named Haniff. Most of the people called cannot speak English properly but they have to because Haniff acts as if he does not understand Malay at all. You can imagine the Manglish that you will hear over the airwaves! That show always makes my day. But I think, “May I help you?” would be a better and more polite tagline.

In Manglish, I also find that speakers do not pay attention to grammar and the most common mistakes are: not differentiating between present tense and past tense, singular and plural, and spelling errors.

The other observation is the wrong pronunciation of English words, something that happens often on the TV3 late news programme, Nightline. A certain news presenter always reads “head” as “had”; “said” as “sad” and recently, “Islamic Civilation Park in Terengganu” instead of “civilisation”. In an early morning programme on Berita Awani, a presenter pronounced Pope John Paul as Pop John Paul.

I recently attended a lecture by an IT expert with a doctorate who is also the head of the IT Department at a leading local private university. In his PowerPoint slides, he had phrases such as “is sents” and “is determines”, with the additional “s”, and that was the way he spoke too.

Even with the numerous constructive ideas and suggestions put forth by various interested and knowledgeable parties on the poor standard of English in the country, I notice that the problem has still not been properly addressed by the people responsible for formulating our education policies.

We see examples all the time. A notice at a mobile phone kiosk at Larkin Bus Terminal in Johor uses “cut” for “card”. You like to have “flied lice” or “one ton mee”?

But, it’s Manglish, and they say, “Anyhow oso can”.

Source: By HUSSAINI ABDUL KARIM @ The Star Online - Mind Our English

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