I've got to admit, I do feel a little bit annoyed when I speak english to my english-speaking malay friends. Not so because I have to switch off my BM and switch on my BI, which inevitably send flickers of the Klang Valley slang into the Queen's language. It is because I've always been in the state of confusion where patrotism, liberalism, universalism and englishwannabeism resides in a same pot of boiling asparagus soup.
I am quite a social-chameleon, that I have to admit but it doesn't bare the fact that I am still knocking on a door of a seemingly empty room, repeating the same question "Why do I need to speak this bloody language, why do I think in this language, why do I write in this language?" The door could easily whammed me in and roar "Because it is the most understood language in the World dumbass!" but it simply decided not to, leaving this poor baldy knocking for eternity. My annoyance came into existence when I first arrived in KL about 4 years ago. The language, english in here is a distinct way to show how rich and knowledgeable and connected you are in this mud-filled complexity we all come to love. It had become an identity. And very few of us Malaysian who speaks this language on a daily basis are able to retain their dignity as Malaysians. Very few.

It's not hard to see how Globalization had taken a roundabout toll in the youth of today. And I don't blame them. I blame their parents. Some Malaysian parents, being a typical Anglophile, had planted anglophile seeds in their children so they could become more english, or more american than the parents could ever be, with the hope of reaching a Anglophilia Nirvana. They don't only speak the language daily but act and live life as seen on TV. Why, most of them have never been to America or the UK but is set to think that living their life the english way will boost their value of living.

Which made me thinking for a long time, is English only a language?
It had all rooted of from a single stem, the occupation of Britain in Malaya. Since then, Malaysians with weak race or religion belonging began to adopt the culture and language and became disposable coffee, tea and horlicks susu trash by the British. We, of course didn't realize this. We had always thought, if you can't beat them, join them. A very weak and futile ideology.

And there on, another culture came into life. A culture easily distinguished by a simple converstion.

I called Arif the other day..
Oh no you didn't....
Like yeah, yes I did!
So like what did he say?
Nothing that I couldn't figure out, with a hot bod, who gives a damn.
He's like the guy in Falcon Beach
Well your ex that looks like the guy in OC is like, fine.. too
yea I know.. Goddamn....

Muthu, could you give me a hand with this roast beef? I've been dying to show Letchmi my fine culinary skills. Have you bought the wine? Oh how delightful of them to join us for dinner, and make sure the children behaved as we'd rehearsed. Alright, all is set. Let us all wait at the family hall and admire the content of the telly-vision.

Mom, I'm home
Make sure you clean bed and do homework, ok?
Yeah mom, I've been doing that like, 12 years already
And make sure brother get teach by you after out
Do you speak like that, like, all the time mom? Make sure you don't when Steph and Steve Chui come and pick me up afterward.

The door finally opened (refer to second paragraph) when I entered the diverse world of IIUM. Everybody speaks english here, except for most malays lah. English here is just a language. And everybody accepts the long-time bare fact. It is a mode of communication. It is a link we all have to make a circle of Ummah work. I'd also met some english speaking malays who refused to compromise their identity even though they're using the language as their personal lingua franca and some are just like me, switching back and forth from BM to BI, only to end up tongue-tied and grammatically questionable at times.

Yep. English is just a language when there is a culture greater than it, forcing the language not to be subset to the culture but an alien connecter that connects other culture within a bigger scope: Universalism, equality, tolerance; Islam.


ikanrerama said...

afiq words never rang truer...

would it make them a better person just bcoz they've adopted the british/american culture and slang?i don't see why these people feel the need to be high and mighty.i myself speak english at a daily basis.however,it doesn't make me less malay than siti from kota bharu.

i'm not being judgemental towards all english-speaking malays. by all means,plz learn and speak english.especially if you're a student (in my case doing research).english is the lingua franca of science.do you know why the japanese research findings are hard to get recognized by the international scientific community eventhough they're great break-throughs?it's because they were published in japanese language.if only it was in a language that everyone understood,their american/british counterparts would be scrambling to hold on to their prestige.

english is just that.a language.it's a tool of communication.i've been switching between langauges (english and malay with a good measure of mandarin+hokkien sprinkled)all these years in usm.i'm not confused.i know exactly who i am and what i want to convey through the language i choose to speak. (^_^)

cibol said...

well, I think it all depends on who you speak to .. I mean personally be at the same level with the person that i'm communicating with but not try to be better than them. I dunno .. but you got me thinking. Nice post

mirul said...

poyo je derang. aku yg penah pegi skolah kt sana pun tak cakap english america accent - rasa nak sepak je kengkadang bile minah2 damansara or bangsar feeling2 american.

Anonymous said...

salam apiq.. (haha)

honestly my english kinda buruks la. but i really hope that i can speak well and write well and... i am trying now.

y'know, i love to befriend with malays-english-speaking ppl.haha!but i need to admit that some of them kinda sombong but alhamdulillah not my 'friends'(my malays-english-speaking friends). they are rocks! :P

-Farahshila @ Nono-
(malas nak sign in)

mar said...

Nice post! Yea,english is english. Like malay is malay. Like japanese is japanese. Like mandarin is mandarin.. So why do some ppl feel that by speaking eng theyre selling their souls,their identity? And why do some speak eng to feel higher and mightier than d next person? Personally,both kind of thinking is just shallow..a language is a language..period.
Thanks for dropping by my blog btw! See ya around! =)

afiq said...


it all boils down to the initial intention lah kan? It can be a trend or merely a language. Tapi apa2 pun Rojak suits better with us Malaysian.

Thank you cibol,

Tak elok sepak perempuan mirul. Berdosa. Let them be lah. Some ppls' level of awareness (especially on their foolishness) are slower than others.


Mine oso quite buruks.. I've been speaking too much malay to be 100% fluent. But it is better this way lah. But really, english is a better language than malay. It has more words which means more depth which indicates more understanding.

Hiya Mar.
If you visit mine, I'll be obligated to visit yours la. Use statcounter.com. Its easier to detect where readers come from.

Miss Aida said...

I see English as just a language. However, like the users of any languages, there always the potential to discriminate based on the choice of language you choose. It doesn't just go as far as the language, but includes the different ways and accents the language is spoken with.