Thursday, September 26, 2013



Being colonized by the British for 170 years does not mean that Malaysians are able to speak and write well in their language, English and to master the language.
            Today, after so many decades of becoming independent from Britain, many Malaysians still generally speak bad English and poor Melayu. They mix them up because they cannot form a reasonable sentence in either of the language.
            The number of Malaysians who speak and write well in English is so few.
            More and more Melayu are opting to speak in Melayu over English which they use only when absolutely necessary.
            But the Melayu have to lower the understanding and usage of Melayu in order to allow the Chinese to understand them by also imitating them on the way the Chinese speak Melayu with a thick accent and incorrectly, so much so that the Chinese had taken it to mean that they did not have to learn the language to get by.
And no wonder, too, even if they are so old, they still could not speak Melayu well, compared to the Bangladeshis, Myanmars and Vietnamese and other foreign workers who have lived in the country barely two years yet they are able to speak better Melayu compared to the Chinese.
            The younger Chinese and Indians, however, speak better Melayu because they revolt against their parents and grandparents who had tried not to allow them to speak in Melayu well.
            There is therefore an unwritten and unacknowledged ‘clash of the generations’ between the old Chinese and Indians and the younger ones, who are more in tuned with the realities of New Malaysia, with their parents and grandparents who they think cannot be saved from their daydreaming of Mother India and Mother China. 
And not surprisingly, many of the lawyers, too, do not speak good English or Melayu, as is evident from the hearing in the courts prove.
            Many Malaysians may be able wrote better in English or Melayu, but when it comes to conversational English and Melayu, they falter.
            The Chinese and Indians generally speak horrible Melayu with many of them not able to speak in English at all.
            Even those who write well in English are not sure if they can speak in the English language well. Many of them who do, often have accents which do not do justice to their command of this language.
            So no wonder, if they are interviewed by foreign film companies, what they say is subtitled in English.
            And one needs to watch the many documentaries or magazine programs on Astro to realize how many Malaysians who are profiled in some of them have what they say subtitled in English.
The Singaporeans are no better or worse…because what they say too is subtitled.
The problem being their spoken English is oftentimes not spoken well for the English to be able to understand. They have a thick Melayu, Chinese and Indian accents, which those in America or England have not yet fully understood or are familiar with.
Even though it is strange how they can understand their own kind even if they have such a thick southern American or hilly-billy accent and who seem to be speaking through their noses.
            Yet, what they say is not subtitled.
            Former American secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, who was born in Germany with Jewish ancestry speaks English in a strong whatever accent with a groveling voice, yet, his speeches are never subtitled.
The broadcasters and filmmakers did not dare to add English subtitles to his speech which could not be fully understood by many even in America, out of respect.
            But the same broadcasters and filmmakers in America, habitually subtitle speeches by non-Americans who speak good English, which could be understood by many Americans, but they are still subtitled anyway.
The reason being they did not want to see the non-Americans to be seen to be speaking good English which is sometimes even better than their own.
            Maybe it is just the prejudice or superiority complex that the producers of the documentaries or programs have, so if they subtitle whatever the non-English speakers say, they make it seem that the speakers are inferior to them.
Even though some of the Asians who speak in English well, yet, it is still given subtitles.
            The campaign and efforts by the Malaysian and even Singapore governments to encourage their citizens to ‘master the English language’ therefore can never succeed.
            They can claim to have got many of their own people who fully understand English, but when they speak, they still show a thick accent.
            It even shows in their senior government officials who speak good English but their accents often fail them, even though many of them have gone to study at the leading universities in America and England, and not just at the local universities.
            There are some Malaysians and Singaporeans who speak good English, but they have to make sure they have the ‘American accent’, and most of the time, they imitate the Americans they see on television or when they have got some experience studying and living in America, so that they can acquire such an accent.
            But generally speaking most Malaysians and Singaporeans do have a thick accent, even though they may write in English well.
            What caused this to happen? They studied in English-medium schools from Standard One, to university in Singapore and sometimes in England and America, yet, they speak English with such an accent, which has to be subtitled.
            It is a shame because this should be the case.
            Maybe there is a problem with the education system in Malaysia and Singapore and in the other countries, including the Philippines many of who do not speak English well with them having a strong Spanish and Tagalog accent, which they could do without.

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