Speak now or forever hold your peace.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with (or have at least) heard the song “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguilera…

…and there’s a part in the chorus, if my memory serves me right, that goes:

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

It’s pronounced:

voo-lay-voo shu-shay avek mua say sua…

Do you know what language that is?
Do you know what it means?

…and the song was a hit I think around 2002 maybe?

If you’ve watched Gilmore Girls before, then you might remember that one episode where Rory Gilmore confidently used said line (without knowing what it actually meant) when she was trying to impress some French business partners of her grandpa with the only French she knew…

Well….
It IS French.

And it means:

Would you lay (sleep) with me tonight?

Imagine how the grandpa’s French partners reacted…hahaha…

Language is a tricky thing…especially when it’s foreign. LOL…

I took French as my language course in Uni. I aced the exams every time. But I wouldn’t say I’m good at it…I still have so much to learn…but here in Malaysia I don’t think its much use to know French or any other foreign language for that matter (maybe with the exception of Japanese since we have many Japanese MNCs here).

So what language is relevant in our country?

Bahasa Malaysia. (duh.)

Mandarin. (or Cantonese or Hokkien or any other dialect depending on where you are.)

Tamil. (maybe)

…yea…cos Malaysia only has three races…Malay, Chinese and Indians…while the rest of us don’t existWTF?!

I think that’s crap la…

Malaysia has a diverse and indigenous variety of races, languages and culture.

No wait…

Sarawak has a diverse and indigenous variety of races, languages and culture – more than any one person can master.

Why is Sarawak a part of Malaysia anyway?
It’s not like they appreciate us…
They don’t acknowledge our existence…
They take away all our resources and use it to develop the “main” land and leave our beloved Land of the Hornbills and our friends in the Land Below The Wind high and dry…
We could do so much better on our own…

Anyways.

I digress.

So…out of the three languages above…which are you good at?

And what of Manglish (Malaysian English or Mangled English, depending on how you look at it) then?

I spent the first 15 years of my life in Brunei…(if you don’t know where that is, it’s that small area between Sarawak and Sabah)…and over there, we didn’t have Brunglish…It was simply English and Bahasa Melayu

The English is the proper, grammatically-correct British English that our colonial masters left us and Bahasa Melayu was Bahasa Melayu lah…Bahasa Malaysia is Bahasa Melayu maa…I may be wrong but wasn’t Bahasa Malaysia called Bahasa Melayu before it became Bahasa Malaysia??

That said, because I grew up in Brunei and studied there till Secondary 3, I was pretty much good at both languages but I especially mastered English. Thus, when it came time to enter Form 4 locally (Malaysia) for the life of me I could not fathom WHY THE HELL is the medium of the education system in our country in Bahasa?! I mean, c’mon lah…everyone knows that English is the internationally worldy widely universally accepted language! No wonder our local students are unable to master the language and settle for Manglish instead…(In other words, Manglish is a form of bad English – not something that one would proudly list under “language skills” in one’s CVwikipedia.)

So now, after what? 40 years?, those in authority finally realize that they shouldn’t have “disliked” English so much and that it should have remained the medium used in schools? It was the medium used when our parents were in school but somewhere between their time and ours, someone decided that as Malaysians…we must have own language…our own identity…English no good…English bahasa penjajah

…all crap la…

Why?

Because after I transferred from Brunei, I have felt that I have had a great advantage over my local peers…it took me as little as a month or two for me to completely adapt to the lessons in Bahasa and I maintained my strength in English…my peers on the other hand struggled with just ONE lesson in a language that is not Bahasa – that lesson is English. So what does that say about the chances of our local graduates to succeed OUTSIDE Malaysia?

Ok…maybe I’m being too critical…it’s just school right?…But that’s the point…it’s NOT just school…some of the local Institutes of Higher Learning (IPTAs) use Bahasa as the medium…STILL! Even after acknowledging the importance of English in today’s world, they are still adamant that “No…our official language here at UXX is Bahasa Malaysia and that will always be the case. We will continue to teach our undergraduates in Bahasa although maybe some subjects we will use English lah…”

I pity the poor local undergraduates who may never be able to utter a proper, not-broken, not-mangled sentence in English…

Don’t get me wrong…I love Malaysia…it’s just that sometimes there are some things that you wish had been different…maybe Malaysia would have been able to achieve more after almost 50 years of independence…

Also, I have no issues against Manglish (hey! It’s FUN what. ;p)…BUT…I don’t like it that it can erode the proper grammatically-correct English that the few of us in this country have had the opportunity to master. Why? Don’t believe me ah? I didn’t use to type like this – with the “ah” and the “lah” and the “maa”…but I believe I can comfortably switch between proper English and Manglish…can you? ;-p

P.S. – This post turned out a lot different than what I intended to write…Hmmm…

P.P.S. – Do go and read this wikipedia article on Manglish…really informative! Most of the words I didn’t know so I guess I don’t have to worry about Manglish eroding my proper English…not at the moment at least. =p

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51 responses to “Speak now or forever hold your peace.

  1. well said .. I myself, well alal of us were thought in the same syllabus, the KBSR in case you’re wondering, Ko-kurikulum baru sekolah rendah, even so, the method used were not KBSR (referring to my schooling days). Grammar was being emphasized fully. Only that particulaar teacher la. He somehow make me do grammar every farking day until I wanna puke .. darn it but hey, I feel blessed to be thought in such a way because that’s what makes me what I am today. and the fact that I don’t come from a good school. I came from SRK Sebauh which is the ulu part of Bintulu. Interior la in another word. Still .. mine is better than those who went for international school .. no offense. Like it or not, eventhough the education system is at fault, still it depends on idividuals to change themselves.

  2. hahaha…true…some of my friends studied locally and their English turned out alright…=) but still, in GENERAL, Malaysians are at a disadvantage when it comes to English…But now that the new curriculum is used where the medium is English, there may be hope…you think? ;p

  3. mar mar! world music festival’s next weekend!! that’s the event u want to go rite? but it’s in penang…hahahahahaha..still want to go arrr?

  4. What??!! Got a WMF ah? (Blame the ppl who “copy” the name off RWMF)…Penang? Can..can..this is Visit Malaysia Year maa…so,do I hear any sponsors for my trip to Penang? ;p

  5. you digressed a lot there….

    anyway… you’re from brunei or you studied in brunei? i think being there did give you some sorta edge over the rest here. you know… i was once laughed at in school becos i dunno what ‘thirsty’ means… maybe i will blog about it tomorrow.

    indeed… our undergraduates is really suffering becos we failed to realise that english is more recognised that any other languages… though mandarin is catching up really fast.

  6. Actually,this WHOLE POST is digressed..I had something else in mind when I began but my fingers seemed to have a mind of their own…hehe…

    I was born in Malaysia (thus Malaysian) but grew up and studied in Brunei up till Secondary 3. All us siblings did. My younger bros are still studying there…apart from language,another advantage is that the level of studies there is higher than in Malaysia.So when we enter Form 4 here,what was being taught was what we’d already learnt there,so basically,we just had to adapt to the medium used from English to BM,which didn’t take much effort either.I think its a lot harder to adapt from BM->English…Thus,woe is our local grads.

    Yeah,Malaysian edu system (including/especially IPTs) really need a good make-over…

  7. actually it is more of how you present yourself. you can have a good command of languages, but if you unable to express yourself properly then no point 🙂 i do agree English is an important language and it is an advantage to have a good grasp in it. “in GENERAL, Malaysians are at a disadvantage when it comes to English” you sure? depends on which crowds you mix with lah… (there goes my lah… 🙂 bad english?) it is up to individuals to change themselves. we have good infrastructures, good facilities but why we suck donkey’s …*bleep?

  8. oh, it was called bahasa malaysia… then bahasa melayu… then bahasa malaysia again. crap, we still cannot determine what is what for such a simple thing.. politiking too much..

  9. Bong,in GENERAL…i do think so…GENERAL doesn’t mean everyone.

    Ohh…like that ah? Well,maybe in the future there will only be one language -> Manglish. Lol…

  10. no i don’t think so. your general, because you mix with your ‘crowd’ and you perceived your ‘general’ there. you was studying in julau before, then you in uitm, now in kuching. try talking to students from st. joe, st. co, st. mary.. try the crowd here in kl.. i think a little bit of lah and leh, doesn’t mean her/his english is bad.

  11. no i don’t think so. your general, because you mix with your ‘crowd’ and you perceived your ‘general’ there. you were studying in julau before, then you in uitm, now in kuching. try talking to students from st. joe, st. co, st. mary.. try the crowd here in kl.. i think a little bit of lah and leh, doesn’t mean her/his english is bad.

  12. Ya la..like i said,general x mean everyone. As for st. schools,no doubt their eng gud..i wnt to st. school in brunei too n st. school hv reputation wit academically gud students,both here n in brunei. Again,x implying tht those who didnt go to st. skul gt bad eng or x academically gud..still,my perception of d majority of msian grads eng level has yet to be waived as d majority’s eng level has lotsa room 4 improvement..thus,generally,msian grads at a disadvantage. Oh and btw,i didnt go to skul in julau. I wnt to smk meradong..and if ur gonna say its still luarbandar skul,x nd to go dwn tht road cuz arch has pointed out tht point. I x disagree wit u guys tht mayb my perception is based on the crowd ive had d opportunity to mix wit..bt hey,can u blame me for hvng tht perception? We’re all entitled to our own perceptions based on what we’ve experienced..and that’s my perception..so unless sum1 has d time to do a research on d statistics of d level of eng competence in msia,then tht remains my perception..in general,x meaning everyone. ;p

    Gtg,im at d movies.FINALLY able to wtch TF..Yes,d time is correct.Its d last show.

  13. i went to brunei and i’ve learnt tagalong.. ha ha, different la.. well, my parents are english educated, so, i don’t have a choice but to learn proper British english~

  14. Tagalong or tagalog? I know now in brunei the trend is to use brunei-language which I don’t know how its called…its kinda like BM,Indon,Sabah slang rolled into one…when I was still studying there it was not yet widely used so I did not get exposed to it to know it, but my kid bros who are still studying there are fluent…rugi me.haha…
    English educated? Wow…cool.
    Thanks for dropping by! =D

  15. aing kalu inda dalam jangan di sangka inda ada buaya, limpar aing atu kaang mati kita ni dui … well, my kampung got lotsa kedayan nearby .. so, I can speak a lil bit .. and understand. It’s not much different from bahasa brunei

  16. Haha..sabanarnya ani nang bahasa kedayan,ntah mcamana pulang bahasa brunei blh trpgrh dgn bhs diaorg..sbab byk org kedayan d brunei mungkin..tapi masa kami msh d brunei dulu blm pulang bahasa ani dgunakan..time tu kami guna english..

  17. Haha…actually wen I said “sbab byk org kedayan d brunei mungkin” above, I was confused with the DUSUNs…in brunei lotsa dusuns..whereas the original Brunei ppl are Kedayans and some Malays…hahaha…how is the language called? Its not tagalog…that’s philippine language.Kan??

  18. tagalog is the pinoy language la .. the have taglish also. bahasa brunei tu bahasa brunei la, bahasa kedayan tu bahasa kedayan la .. but it’s more or less the same thing actually. watever la .. I understand both .. ha ha ha

  19. hahaha…well,now u know.Checked out the wikipedia article on manglish I linked here? Very informative…and since ur so free anyways…hehe. So which blog do you actually use? WP or Blogger? I was confused…I stumbled onto ur blogger and then from cibol’s it links to ur WP…

  20. Now the trend to add “licious”…which came first by the way? Bootylicious or Fergielicious or some other word that had “licious” added onto it???

    Another “evoultion” of the English language…heh.

  21. “language should not be dead. it should be allowed to evolve” SOKONG! hehe…

    There is ONE dead language tho…latin…or greek or whatever…it’s always “ceteris paribus”

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