Sunday, 10 April 2011

Speaking the language

Wow...it has really been a while since I blogged.  I am not going to say... "So sorry for not updating my blog, etc. etc. etc"... as I know the readership for this blog has reduced tremendously...

Anyway... read about this piece of news and I have something to say about it...

It’s quite a diverse composition of nationalities here where I work.  Since arrived, I have met or spoken to (and I am not making this up)… Brits, Australians, Spaniards, Mexicans, French, Indians, Americans, Koreans, Japanese, Indonesians, Mainland Chinese, New Zealanders, Russians, Israelis, Africans, Sri Lankan, Arabs, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and of course people from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.  Have yet to meet an Italian.

But of course, being a multinational enterprise, official business language of communication is English.  Inevitably, you will hear English spoken in various accents.

It is interesting though, to note one point…

I am sure many of us have heard or even ourselves have at times, made fun of certain English accent.  The most common accent that Malaysians like to laugh at is the Indian accent, followed closely by “singing” Hong Kong accent. 

I have observed though, that no matter how heavy the accent is – those who are considered as good speakers will never add nor alter the words, grammar or structure of the English language.

I have seen many senior management personnel giving speeches, presentations or chairing meeting and though they may speak with an extremely heavy accent, English is still spoken the way English should be spoken.

I have never ah, hearing any senior people speaking English hor, like this wan you know.

What I am saying is – while Malaysians find humour in accents of certain nationalities, speaking in a modified English language (i.e. Manglish) is actually worse.  More importantly, if one strives to move ahead in the corporate world and longs to be a good speaker (which I believe is an important criterion if one longs to move up) – it is much better to speak English with a funny accent instead of speaking your own version of “English”.




4 years ago… A 2nd chance with Mom

21 comments:

Crankster said...

How true. A lot of people laugh at the heavy Indian accent, not knowing that in many ways, the Indians have trumped us Malaysians.

Tempus said...

Well, not only Malaysians make fun of other nationals' accent, even aussies make fun of US' because of pronouncing Melbourne as Mel-born. It just happens everywhere, and as long as a person carries a courteous way of speaking, ideas transcend beyond the language. But of course, getting the language on the right track comes first, and weirdly I'm more prone to go all American as compared to British considering our education system XD

PS: how'd you know I'm applying for the SG scholarship?

Anonymous said...

Kinda of know what you mean.. but why is it the other side of the phone always say " come again " ??

Rgds,
Ox

me the martian said...

hey zewt

havent read your blog in a while and i found ur comment in loyar burok. didnt know u left our country. all the best with the new place.

kumitaa said...

Blog-hopped and happened to stumble upon your blog, have been following it ever since. I agree with you, it is definitely better to speak with a heavy accent than to speak in a 'modified English'. But, having said that, I do find it interesting that they place so much emphasis on English when all efforts to introduce English to students at a younger age (i.e. Math and Science in English) is strongly opposed with the argument that the usage of a foreign language will only make youths forget their roots. How then are people even supposed to master, let alone grasp the very basics of the language? Someone even wrote to me recently stating that her friends ridicule her every time she attempts to converse in English and I feel like that probably isn't an isolated incident in the country...

Hilman Nordin said...

I enjoyed "Mind Your Language"!

Terra Shield said...

I noticed that quite a few who were active in blogging circa 2008, 2009 have slowed down a bit of late... myself included.

Anyway, you have a very good point there... I like hearing proper English... Manglish is fine over teh tarik and roti canai, but not during a presentation...

Amanda Christine Wong said...

enlightening! being an english teacher teaching english everyday, boy, we still have a long way to go.

Ms UnicornGirl said...

Sad to say this , but ppl here ( u know who....) fail to understand the importance of knowing the language only to regret about it much later which by then is way too late .

Ummie said...

Spicing your language with Singlish?

aiting said...

Strongly agree with your points here. I do think the worst English i've heard so far are spoken by Malaysians and Singaporeans.

I have people from other nationalities asking me why they cannot understand the locals even though they are speaking English.

I have to say because that's Manglish, everything was dubbed in local slangs and not accent.

Jerine said...

You should tell this to Malaysian radio DJs. Don't know what accent they adopt.

Tunku Halim said...

"To say lah or not say lah, that is the question" ... I saw that on a cool T shirt!

Yvonne Foong said...

Commend of the English language in Singapore is impressive. Even the guys at the MRT stations write proper English to me with correct sentence syntax, grammar and spelling. One must refrain from showing any signs of surprise for that would come across as condescending!

In Malaysia, grammar errors are more worrisome than a limited vocabulary. Or maybe, our vocabulary is limited so we make it up by inventing slangs.

Anonymous said...

i no listen to chew!

~foreva anon~
~foreva rank n file~

Kimmy said...

We can't recognise the error of using Manglish because we're so used to it in our society. I agree with Yvonne one point that due to our limitations with our vocabulary, we intend to invent slangs just to add some 'kick' or expression into the conversation.

kyh said...

yes and no. i do agree that having a funny accent is better than speaking a modified english, but then, manglish, however horrid it is to the listener, is ingrained in the linguistic fabric scene of this region, and to deny it its right to exist is just plain brutal.

zewt said...

Crankster - couldnt agree more... i deal with such ppl on a daily basis.

Tempus - it was on your blog mate :) anyway, british accent is more sexy they say.

anon aka Ox - haha... that's the problem on the other side.

me the martion - thanks... been almost a year gosh!

kumitaa - hello... the thing is... in malaysia, the whole education is being managed with a hidden political agenda. any change made, is not for the people, but to gain popularity by the person who made the decision...

zewt said...

Hilman Nordin - LOL... me too!

Terra Shield - yup... i admit i speak manglish... a lot... but not in a situation that requires otherwise.

Amanda Christine Wong - hahaha.... the future is in your hand!

Ms UnicornGirl - well, did you hear about the 'change mood' saga? arrogance hiding stupidity for that fella.

Ummie - not at all... not at alll....

aiting - it's a bit of a rojak and.... like the name manglish... it's truly a new language... or a dialect within english.

zewt said...

Jerine - malaysian accent lor... lol

Tunku Halim - in melaka i think...

Yvonne Foong - even the aunty at the wet market or hawker can speak better english than some graduate in malaysia... and do you remember the encounter i had with the contractor?

anon aka foeva anon - why no u listen chew mi?

Kimmy - the right thing to do is to learn and expand our vocab... no?

kyh - wouldnt disagree...but one should not say one is speaking english when one is speaking manglish.

taxidrive said...

I remember this argument well. Only with english mastery you can rise in the world.

And I replied, in England even the taxi driver speaks english.

The garbage collector also speaks proper english!

That shut the anglophile..for a while..