Friday, February 10, 2006

The Easiest Language.

Of all the languages in the world Bahasa Melayu is the easiest to pick up. Anyone with a quarter of a brain can easily pick up enough phrases in less than an hour to start work waiting tables at a 24-hour nasi kandar shop.

This is good for those Tamil boys brought to Malaysia by a consortium of Persatuan Restoran India Muslim to start work as soon as they are picked up from the airport, brought in a van to the shop, change into their day uniform, and with a pen and a notepad in hand, start going around asking, 'apa makan, apa minum?'

Bahasa Melayu doesn't put too much emphasis, unlike other languages like Arabic, Mandarin, French or Swahili, on mahraj. Or grammar. Or sequence or whatsoever. In fact once you know a few words all you have to do is juggle them around to invent your own brand of Malay. And the Malays, being such a nice people that they are, will find you very entertaining. They may make fun of your Malay but you know they mean well.

Mahraj, if you know a thing or two about tajwid, is the phonetic sound of the letters and any Qur'an teacher will tell you that you have to correctly pronounce each and every nuances in the mahraj the closest you can to a native Arabic speaker. Otherwise you won't be able to read the Qur'an accurately and when this happnens you will get the meaning all upside down. The most difficult letters, usually, are Sod, Dhot, Tho, Zho. Oh well maybe Ghrain. Okay, 'Ain.

For those of you who have visited Pok Ku's blog before ending by mistake here, you would have guessed by now that this entry is inspired by his brilliant observation of the way our DJs pronounce certain words as if it is fashionable to make Malay words to sound 'stylo'. So you've got Serdang as Ser Dank. Fuyoo. Of course you've got Kelang as Clang, or Clung, Or Klu Klux Klan. Or how about Kuala Lumpur as koola loompr. Triple fuyooo.

The problem is mahraj.

French. Mandarin, or for that matter English are languages that place great emphasis on mahraj. Otherwise you'll end up with various brands of the language such as Manglish, or Pidgin.You don't get too many varieties of French, or Mandarin other than geographic differences.

In Mecca you will be amazed at how people from different places in the world read Al-Fatihah the same way. Thanks to mahraj.

In Malaysia, we can't even standardised the correct pronunciation of basic words like Kuala Lumpur, Klang or Serdang. You'd better learn how to say Koola Loompr from today because who knows one fine day when you say 'Take me to Kuala Lumpur, please' and the taxi driver will look you in the eye and say 'You are not from around here, are you?'

17 Comments:

Blogger demonsinme said...

Master Bergen,

on the master thing, is just the way i respect people.

on this entry, i say its a nice one.

6:51 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

or how Ampang = Ampunk

I'll ask my dad to read this, he'll love it.

Nice one. A good weekend to you sir!

8:13 PM  
Blogger Noni said...

haven't heard of ampunk b4, but i've heard of amparng!

8:32 PM  
Blogger Lollies said...

and precisely for that fact i do not name my children with names supposedly spelles with ain, tho, or dhot and Zho. It might end up being offensive

9:51 PM  
Blogger ailin...in aalborg said...

I wish that they had an equivalent to 'Akif's name (because it starts with an ain, not an A). But many people can't pronounce 'Akif, and worst still, people here pronounce it A-kif, like from the A-team?

12:22 PM  
Blogger dr in the house said...

Triple fooyo! Hehe--I am NOT one of those who accidentally end up here from Pokku's. In fact it was the other way round, :))

Yes Bergen, it's all about mahraj, I reckon. Where you vocalize your kho, ha' and hha', from the hard palate, deep throat or the chest.

And in Mecca ,everyone, whatever their race, will read the Quran in almost the same manner of pronunciation albeit minor differences in the twang I suppose.

A friend who did umrah during last year's Ramadhan was praised by a Foreigner for reading the quran in a perfect manner and they concludeed, Malaysians are among the best in reciting the Quran. But ironically when asked further whether she understood what she recited, my friend embarrassedly said no..:(

1:33 PM  
Blogger Kak Teh said...

the last time i was home, i thought i was being taken to a place called 'Alamander' -rupa-rupanya Alam Anda!!!!

6:32 PM  
Blogger maklang said...

Well... Some people will say Me-lay-si-a while other will say Me-lay-zhia? Awal2 lagi dah terpesong.

I really hate those people who pronounce all the 't's as if they are the mat Sallehs.

Well can't they just talk with proper Malay pronounciation??? Pelik??

9:29 PM  
Blogger AuntyN said...

Try saying Naga Lilit in the Mat Salleh pronounciation..:-)

11:38 PM  
Blogger AuntyN said...

Try saying Naga Lilit in the Mat Salleh pronounciation..:-)

11:41 PM  
Blogger MA said...

Until today I can still remember the name of the DJ who pronounce Serdang as SER-DANK.

It was Daphne Nasir.

She was reporting a traffic situation in Ser-dank.

Aiyooo.....

1:10 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

Hi there Bergen,

Good posting.

Kak Teh - Just for your info. it's not 'Alamender' or 'Alam Anda', it's 'Alamanda' after the name of yellow flower commonly found in Putrajaya and other places in Malaysia (the shopping complex's logo). The way to pronounce it is 'a-la-man-da'.

There... I hope people won't be confused.

10:30 PM  
Blogger A Babe Of Very Little Brain said...

i failed a Malay voiceover job because i could not pronounce Shah Alam decently.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Noni said...

Additional kepoh info : alamanda is aka buttercup. Thank u.

10:30 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

DIM: Thank you, sir.

Anedra: I hope he will, ma'am.

Noni: Fuyoo.

Lollies: I agree, ma'am.

Ailin: The transfer from Arabic to English has never been easy. Or for that matter it is not easy from one language to another.

Dr Roza: You've got it right, ma'am.

Kak Teh: I took Aunt Su to the same place for laksa so huge it was almost like eating the stuff out of a cauldron.

Mak Lang: For style, ma'am.

AuntyN: What does it mean?

Mak Andeh: You're right. Fuyoo

Liza: Thank for visiting, ma'am.

ABWVLB: What is the standard pronunciation for Shah Alam?

Noni: Thank you, Noni.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Queen Of The House said...

Bahasa Melayu is indeed a very easy languange - the pronounciation rules are very straightforward unlike English. Just as the new Hang Tuah (in Hang Tuah the Musical) said. Steve Rahman Hughes is half-Malay half-English and grew up in the UK, thus speaking no BM. I guess he decided to return to his roots and landed the Hang Tuah role (after being in the London theatre scene, that should have been easy lah kot). The guy's got BM pronunciation figured out quite well, and is able to sing in BM too, although not quite understanding it. Not unlike us reading the Quran, eh?

To Ailin, my fifth child's name was 'Ayn. With the apostrophe macam nama 'Akif juga.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Daphne Nasir said...

I resemble that remark dahlinks, I haven't been on air for ages, and never read a traffic report on *Ser Dank* , or Amp angg, or Petal ink Jaiah.....

11:56 PM  

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