LANGUAGE PURIST…Universiti Putra Malaysia lecturer in Malay Literature, Associate Prof Dr Lim Swee Tin says those who combine Malay and English words are corrupting the Malay Language. This habit is not confined to the younger generation; the print and electronic media contribute to this problem too. He believes there should be no compromise in maintaining the immaculateness of the language.Pic: Melati Mohd Ariff
SERDANG: Listen to the language spoken casually by youngsters, or read their abbreviated text messages (SMS), and it soon becomes clear they are ignoring the rules of the language.
There is no consistency in the syntax and grammar used. Abbreviated texts have replaced paragraphs, with punctuation omitted deliberately.
Today, the emphasis is on high-speed communication at one’s fingertips. The younger generation prefers to communicate its thoughts and emotions with dots and dashes, or images, rather than expressive language.
The corruption of language has far-reaching consequences, as it becomes the norm with the passage of time.
It is, therefore, not surprising to find people using what is referred to as ‘SMS language’ in school, as well as university studies.
A BIG SHIFT
The Malay language is also being corrupted.
Associate Prof, Dr Lim Swee Tin, a Malay literature lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Modern Language and Communication Faculty, said there was ‘a big shift’ in the way language was being used.
“The younger generation will certainly want to use the language that they are comfortable with, and which suits them.
“However, I see a tendency to contract words, eliminate prefixes, and what is most evident now is the habit of eliminating vowels in writing,” said Dr Lim.
He was responding to a question on his views on the younger generation’s command of Malay, during an interview with Bernama here, recently.
Dr Lim is a language purist, and loathes the usage of abbreviated English words, such as ‘Ori’ (Original) and ‘Otai’ (Old Timer).
In addition, there are those who combine Malay and English, giving rise to the ‘bahasa rojak’ that is frowned upon by linguists.
Dr Lim believes users of ‘bahasa rojak’ should be made aware that they are corrupting Malay.
However, Dr Lim is aware that this development is unavoidable, as ‘bahasa rojak’ is increasingly being accepted by language experts and the media.
“The younger generation does not care about the old ways. They quietly want to adapt the language with the aspirations of their generation,” said Dr Lim.
Dr Lim also noted that the corruption of Malay is not limited to the younger generation. Print and electronic media, too, contribute to this problem.
Dr Lim said radio programmes were the biggest culprits in corrupting the Malay language.
He cited the example of a radio station with a large following that has been using the ‘bahasa rojak’. Unfortunately, the language would be learnt by listeners, he said.
“The programme is accessed all over the country; thus, the implication is far-reaching. Therefore there is no compromise for me in maintaining the immaculateness of the language.
“These radio stations, in fact, compete with one another to win a greater share of the audience, and a bigger share of advertisement revenue, at the expense of sub-standard language,” explained Dr Lim.
ETHICS AND RESPONSIBILITY
Given their powerful influence, radio and television should be at the forefront in protecting the Malay language.
In an environment of rapid changes, this would help mitigate the problem of corruption of Malay, said Dr Lim.
Dr Lim also criticised English-Malay translators who were incompetent.
“We cannot translate as we like, or coin terms as we like.
“Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka has a system for translation and borrowing words. This has been long in practice.
“If this system is ignored, this will further degrade the language system, and if this continues it will be detrimental to our language,” he lamented.
Some entertainment magazines also add to the corruption of the language, especially when they are not monitored.
In the midst of the debate on ‘bahasa rojak’ several years ago, Dr Lim attempted to monitor magazines on sale.
According to him, out of the many magazines he examined, two used sub-standard language with abbreviations.
Both these were entertainment magazines, published fortnightly, and seemed to be well-received by people.
“It is mind boggling how magazines like this are published in the first place.
“The same problem is also reflected in comics for children and the youth, where the language is appalling.
“And one should never forget that when this language is used, day in day out, it soon becomes a norm, widely-accepted,” stressed Dr Lim.
SURVIVAL OF THE LANGUAGE
But language is dynamic, and its evolution cannot be stopped.
Taking this into consideration, Dr Lim suggested that language champions and experts find a balance between the purity of a language and the aspirations of its users.
The younger generation should, especially, be counseled that such changes may affect the integrity of the language.
by Melati Mohd. Ariff.
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