Monday, February 13, 2006

Lembu Punya Susu, Sapi Punya Nama.

The Malays are so friendly that they don't mind one bit if their language is abused by a non-native speaker who had picked up a few words of the language to come up with a peribahasa like the title of this entry. In fact the Malays are willing to go the extra mile to officially recognize this peribahasa to mean what it supposed to mean, disregarding the grammar because being such a friendly bunch, they are willing to overlook this fact for the sake of originality. Or creativity. So I had better not be so annoyed with 'infotainment' because I'm sure Zainuddin Maidin used the same line of thinking to come up with this 'infortainment' catch-line for RTM.

Which makes me wonder why do we need Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka in the first place if all they do is come up with Kamus Dewan year in and year out. The way I see it, I can write in Bahasa Melayu whichever way I please because who knows, in the process, I may come up with something so grammatically outrageous that it may be considered original and creative by whoever is responsible to overlook this state of sorry affair. Same thing with Jawi.

If you subscribed to Utusan Melayu before they closed it down in January this year, you would have noticed that some of the spellings are totally outrageous and that they did not conform at all with the the principles of spelling a word in Jawi the way you and I were taught. I don't know who was responsible for this but whoever it was, the guy must have worked out the whole new system by himself without consulting anyone because he was probably a department by himself that he had a free-hand to do whatever he wanted with Jawi. And they wondered why Jawi is so unpopular and blame the young generation for, tidak mengenal warisan dan maruah bangsa untuk mentarbatkan pusaka nenek moyang kerana terlalu ghairah dengan budaya asing seperti Black Metal. Fuyoo.

Rais Yatim made a statement in Penang that something will be done to bring Jawi back to life from dead. It's easier to keep something barely alive from dying than to put back the life into something that's dead as a doornail. Oh yes, Jawi may return but in the form of a zombie. If this how Jawi is, don't be surprised if more people decide to stay away from it. I don't blame them because somehow they fail to project Jawi as contemporary, modern and progressive. Let me tell you this, the articles that they ran in Utusan Melayu were trash. It is always about writers in their late 50s or 60s writing about their youth in Singapore as young upstart journalists caught in the wave of merdeka. Or about kampong life. About how different it is between then and now. About kuih muih that the young generation will never get to taste, as if the young generation care about it all that much now that they've got cheesecake that tastes better than ubi kayu cicoh kelapa. It is always about the good old days, never about where are we headed tomorrow. It is always about foreign culture being worse than budaya kita. I hated each and every article in there but out of sympathy, I subsribed to the paper and never failed to buy it every Saturday (sometimes it never came). Afterall it's only RM1.00.

You may wonder what got me started on this one. It's the poster in the restaurant that I saw for a product called 'Kopi Jantan.' It has pictures of two elderly men in kopiah and selendang merah Arab drinking the coffee from a cup. Judging by the look of the men in the poster, they are way too old for Aunt Su. They must be at least in their late 70's or early 80's. I believe the guy who designed this poster wanted to say that this product of theirs has a long history and therefore it's good. I don't know about you, but I believe advertising is about image and so I believe this poster would work better to attract the younger generation to try this Kopi Jantan if only the guy who designed this poster put young, healthy people drinking the product on the poster instead of this two elderly guys who look as if they are going to die tomorrow. This is the problem with us. We want so much to say that the older generation is better that we overlook the reality of getting through the young generation because we can't shake off this concept, siapa makan garam dulu.

This attitude isn't going to change and this attitude will bring us down. It will bring Bahasa Melayu, Jawi or everything associated with the Malays down the gutter. Wait and see.


Blogger demonsinme said...

if u can answer this one master bergen, than you'll find the answer for this entry.


2:57 PM  
Blogger Noni said...

@ demonsinme...

i don't have a single one of those name brands that you listed... my last pair of Levi's got retired after my last pregnancy. Would that make me more or less Malay than others?

@ bergen...

I am of the opinion that is fine and good to have Malay pride but how important is it actual fact? Would one who 'martabat'kan bahasa Melayu and upholds the Malay culture but stabs others in the back be a more viable candidate for a medal in God's eye than one who is not deemed a Melayu in the 'typical' sense that does not comform to society's mould.

Shouldn't we have a different priority?

4:54 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Hi again bergen,

Can't resist to put another comment here. Well I would like to answer to demonsinme. I feel a bit offended by the statement. In the first place, it is not fair to stereotype any races because of ones act or doing.

It is not right to say that the Malays are not proud with their traditional dresses what so ever because being a Malay myself, I am very proud of my tradiotional attire that I wear it with much respect. Good quality Malay clothings are not cheap either and I always wear it proudly. Of course you will wear it with care and depending on the right occassions to be practical. You can't possibly wear it while going out clubbing, right.

5:27 PM  
Blogger aalborg said...

Each time I was back in Tapah, we would get those jawi newspapers for my Opah. She used to read them aloud as if reading the Quran. I was laughing at the new addition of the jawi alphabet--VI It takes shape of the wau with a dot on the head. I don't think we had this back during my school days. I used to enjoy reading jawi books and really wanted to take ugama for my SPM. Unfortunately, my father did not trust me with ugama (unknown to him, it was one of my strongest subject.) Berg, if you knew who my father is, you would turn into Rambo and go gun him down!

6:10 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

I never could understand the poster. I mean the two guys and one I remember in the ad is very old wearing a kopiah. They hardly portray the image of "Jantan".

Ailin - i know who yr dad is. in fact he helped me write my song for nazrah in an indirect way. why gun him down??

6:27 PM  
Blogger demonsinme said...

Mater Bergen, sorry but this is for the ladies noni and liza.

There's no reason why you ladies to be offended. It is by no means at all am I implying as what you ladies think.

Take a moment and think. Language is one of the primary things that define the race - "BAHASA JIWA BANGSA". Without it part of what defines us are gone. But by that, I am not saying that those who can mutter even a single word of BM is not a Malay. Its just that part of what defines us is gone. Thats it.

The comment that I posted has it own logic. If you look around us,you would see that we (and by we, I am including myself) are more PROUD (the emphasis is in the word PROUD and not "racial stereotyping")by the cultures of other rather than our own set of culture in many aspects of our lifes. Many would only like to see the negative part of the Malay people thus (knowingly or not) generalizing all Malays to have that negativity. Language is an example as has been highlighted by many (be it bloggers or scholars).

The above is not by any means to say we have to reject the cultures of others but rather we have to use the god given ability to think to incorporate them into ou sets of values and cultures. How many of us dare to wear the "capal" and can be proud of it? How many of us fares to incorporate the wisdoms of the malay proverbs and be proud of it? Those are the type of questions that I'm trying to ask myself and godwillingly your esteemed and enlightened self(s).

A malay is a malay even if he or she donned the name that resembles beings from a different continent. But can wehonestly be proud of the things that charecterized us as a Malay.

Again, forgive if I have offended you or any of your reders with this and the previous comment that I make. The fault is all mine due to my lacking in intellegent and insensitivity towards others.

7:06 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

DIM: I not sure how to answer that, sir. One thing for sure, I haven't put on baju Melayu for a long time. Don't even have one.

Noni: I hear ye.

Liza: Let's not turn this into an issue about dress. It's about the way the language is abused.

Ailin: No, ma'am. I wouldn't want to do that to your dad. Neither do I want to be Rambo, ma'am.

Anedra: Ailin's dad is a songwriter like you too? Amazing.

7:14 PM  
Blogger NBB said...

maybe someone can write love stories in tulisan jawi. then only people will be more keen on reading jawi... :D

7:42 PM  
Blogger Nurelhuda said...

You got it wrong laa Bergen, the kopi jantan means that these two men are still jantan inspite of their age..You innocent creature you!
And what do you mean by writing hadir
Go make a proper comment this time..I ve pasted part of my oh so romantic novel on my blog....

7:57 PM  
Blogger aalborg said...

Anedra and Bergen: In the late 70's, Dad published a paper on how to "modernise" Malay words. Specifically speaking, how to make them sound more English, e.g. maklumat is no longer maklumat, but informaSI, perasaan>>emoSI etc. etc. You get the picture lah.

Guess who found the paper? IMAD!!! hahahah.... Yes, we had a good laugh. On the other hand, I think it was quite innovative and futuristic of Dad. And since that was the dawn of the IT age, I guess "selected" people would say it nearly necessary to adapt and accept English words into the Malay language.

p.s. wanted to comment about DBP, but I think I better not. Since my Dad's still alive and earning.

8:16 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Nurul Bahiyah Baharudin: Before that can happen they need to expand the number of those who can read Jawi first. It's chicken and egg situation.

Ailin: I got you, ma'am.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Noni said...

alamak demonsinme... chill-lah brader... no offence taken... yet!!!

My contention is what is it really that defines a Melayu? and is being Melayu something really to be proud of when there are all sorts of negative connotations associated with the Melayu stereotypes I know... (ie. taruk bunga dalam kereta... kaki pendengki... curtain pink renda-renda... tak gheti beratur... etc.)

So in this day and age a Melayu is one who dons "branded clothing", be it ori or ciplak, but is it really bad? Don't get me wrong... I like being Melayu; (e.g. bukak kasut dalam rumah... makan pakai tangan... hidang cawan the tangkai must be on the right... tunduk bila lalu depan org tua... the whole filial piety thang) I am proud to have such an identity. Having Melayu children was one of the major reasons why I came back home to marry a Melayu as I didn't have the confidence to be able to do that otherwise.

However, the question still lingers... di manakah letaknya Melayu itu?

As what was higlighted by Bergen... we are the ones who allow the stereotyping to continue to permeate... but allow me to quit my useless rhetoric and go ajar my kids to mengaji...

11:54 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

Bergen: I don't know if Ailin's dad is a songwriter, no..but he sure did help me on my first (and one and only) song with his thesaurus! I actually owe him one.

2:15 PM  

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