Sunday, November 17, 2013


By Mansor Puteh

I first visited Paris when I was flying back from New York City to Kuala Lumpur in early 1981, by stopping in the city for three days. France then was France. So I went there with this in mind.

I was told the French did not like to speak in English, no matter what. But this is not true. I could get some of them to speak with me in English when I was buying things from them and wanted to look for directions and especially with the cab-drivers.

I returned to Paris the second time in June, 2013, after an absence of 32 years and thought Paris and France would be different today, in the more globalized world we are supposed to be in where English is the most dominant international language.

I was wrong.

France is still France as I knew it in 1981. And I don’t blame them for insisting the use of French in their everyday lives. It is like being in another planet altogether without being able to communicate much with everybody around me.

And I am sure the next time I return to Paris or France, I will still find myself in Planet France.

There were not many, if any, signboards in English, except at places where there are foreign travelers, so they are able to communicate to get information and direction.

The time difference was 32 years, yet, France being France did not embrace globalization which to the others mean, the adoption of English as their first language, leaving whatever language their ancestors had been using to be rendered redundant and useless.

There are pro-English proponents, but most of them strangely, are in Malaysia, and they are mostly Melayu and some Chinese and Indians.

They think with the more widely use of English Malaysia and also the Melayu can develop and faster.

Their logic is stilted, especially when they insist that with English they can acquire knowledge better.

Yet, none of them has said which sort of knowledge they had acquired using the English they know.

All of the pro-English proponents and supporters, sadly, use English for show.

There are even some, including former prime minister Mahathir Mohammad who are trying to get the government to use English for the study of Science and Mathematic, saying that it is easier to do so as most of the terms used in these two subjects are in English and all that they do to have such words into the Melayu language is to misspell them.

But they did not say the English too had misspelled many words in other languages, including Melayu to use in their language, for everyday use, including many which are scientific words and terms.

They have also neglected to say how the French, Germans, Italians and Spanish and so on are also adopting many words in English by misspelling them.

The English say, ‘Pardon’, and the French say, ‘Pardon’ but with ‘n’ not pronounced.

Although many would say learning French is difficult, but this may not be true as they also use Roman characters with some local styles and flavors, and with concentration one can easily read in French and also speak in the language.

It is also true with the study of Melayu, which also uses Roman characters, and especially with the many words in English that are now included in the vocabulary of the Melayu language, anybody who knows English, German, French or who is familiar with Roman characters can learn Melayu better and easily.

Even the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese and even Indian also adopt words from English into their vocabulary.

However, since they do not use Roman characters one cannot tell which of the words in English that they had misspelled; so it is okay for them to use those words.

So the only reason why the pro-English supporters and proponents that we have in Malaysia especially is that they do not think highly of the Melayu that we have as the national language.

For the Chinese and Indians, if they are in the same pro-English boat, they can be charged for not liking Melayu since they know they cannot excel in the language, and they cannot force their languages to be adopted as the national language of the country other than Melayu.

They can so far force the authorities to use these languages in signboards at the airports and at some other places.

But they cannot go on to get road signs written also in these languages. They had tried to do that before especially in the aftermath of the 2008 general elections which saw them winning many seats in parliament and seizing some states.

However, their acts only prove that they are chauvinists and not democrats, who would take actions outside of the law.

But to many, these are desperate acts of people whose sizes are fast shrinking. They thought if they did not do that then, they could not do that later.

If there are only sixty-six million persons in France, yet, they are able to use their language widely in their country without any of them feeling insecure about it and wanted to start to use a foreign language such as English, which many of them know, then why can’t Melayu be used more widely in Malaysia and in the whole of Southeast Asia, which is the Melayu World?

We can also create Planet Melayu in this part of the world so all road signs are in the language, so that even the French have to learn the language if they are here and wish to communicate with the people here.

I have not heard of any French man or woman who agree to what the pro-English supporters and proponents that we have in Malaysia.

Where did these pro-English supporters and proponents come from? They were also those from the rural villages, whose ancestors had left them to come to the city, where their off-springs suddenly find the language they were taught as children to be inferior.

Fortunately, there are still many Melayu who speak fluent English who do not follow their logic, and who insist on using English as the language to acquire knowledge, and Melayu for everyday communication.

They do not use English to show off, especially to the fellow Melayu and other Malaysians that they are more educated. They are not. Most of them sadly are not so educated. If they are, then they will want to be more Melayu and more Malaysians than those who are not so well-educated who may want to use their limited grasp of English in their daily communication.

Give up, pro-English supporters and proponents. Go to Planet France

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