Monthly Archives: April 2010

British vs. Malaysian English

It’s been a long time since I posted something in this blog. I’ve actually run out of ideas already šŸ™‚ Anyway, someone sent me something humourous recently.

We’ve heard of British vs. American English, but this post is about British vs. Malaysian English (Manglish). Have fun comparing:

British English vs. Malaysian English

(a) WHEN GIVING A CUSTOMER BAD NEWS

Britons:
I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t seem to have the sweater you want in your size, but if you give me a moment, I can call the other outlets for you.

Malaysians:
No stock.

(b) RETURNING A CALL

Britons:
Hello, this is John Smith. Did anyone call for me a few moments ago?

Malaysians:
Hello, who call ah, just now?

(c) ASKING SOMEONE TO MAKE WAY

Britons:
Excuse me, I would like to get by. Would you please make way?

Malaysians:
S-kews, s-kews!

(d) WHEN ASKING FOR PERMISSION

Britons:
Excuse me, but do you think it would be possible for me to enter through this door?

Malaysians:
[pointing at the door] Can enter, ah?

(e) WHEN ENTERTAINING

Britons:
Please make yourself right at home.

Malaysians:
No need shy shy one, lah!

(f) WHEN DOUBTING SOMEONE

Britons:
I don’t recall you giving me the money.

Malaysians:
Where got?

(g) WHEN DECLINING AN OFFER

Britons:
I would prefer not to do that, if you don’t mind.

Malaysians:
Don’t want lah.

(h) WHEN ASKING SOMEONE TO LOWER THEIR VOICE

Britons:
Excuse me, but could you please lower your voice? I’m trying to concentrate over here.

Malaysians:
Shut up, lah!

(i) WHEN ASSESSING A TIGHT SITUATION

Britons:
We seem to be in a bit of a predicament at the moment..

Malaysians:
Die lah!!

(j) WHEN SOMEONE DID SOMETHING WRONG

Britons:
This isn’t the way to do it. Here, let me show you.

Malaysians:
Like that also don’t know how to do!

The conclusion is, Manglish is simple, short, concise but not easy for foreigners to understand šŸ˜€

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Jewery

What? Jewery? Yup, that’s what I heard a few minutes ago, and that prompted me to post this article.

My office door is now open because there’s no electricity. Ā Somehow this PC runs on a different electrical line. Right across my room, I could see a group of students discussing a mock meeting. Well, somewhere along their discussion, one of the group members wanted to know the spelling of the word “jewelry” (jewellery), and her friend confidently said: “Jewery? J-E-W-E-R-Y.”Ā  – she was literally spelling the way she pronounced it!!

I blogged about grammar and phonics recently, and now it’s clearly proven that in some cultures, you can’t simply “convert” them into native English speakers, probably never in their lifetime. What the Ministry of Education could do is to start a speech therapy class conducted by local teachers, if they’re really serious about improving pronunciation. You won’t get 100% success rate, but you’d certainly see some improvement. A friend of mine attended a speech therapy class in the U.S. when she was studying there, and it helped her. Nevertheless, she still has problems pronouncing the “l” in “problem”, for instance. It’s all got to do with the interference of the mother tongue.

It’s really noisy – oh, they’re quiet now as it’s time to start that mock meeting with their lecturer.

Ā 

Grammar or phonics?

Our government – to be moreĀ specific, the Ministry of Education (MOE) – has a bad habit of changing the way things are done in schools as and when they please without getting input from the grassroots (the teachers). First, we have the ever controversial teaching of Math and Science in English. In a recent report in the papers, the MOE plans to recruit foreign teachers to teach English pronunciation because they want students to pronounce the way native speakers do! Check out a comment made by a Malaysian reader and another comment by a foreign reader in response to the first reader’s comment. Both are against what I call “the blatant ignorance” of officials in the MOE.

It really amazes me and everyone else how those blokes at the top think, if they ever think at all. Who are they trying to please at the expense of our children? Are they really qualified to make decisions in the first place? Tax payers’ money is being utilized to hire 365 foreigners to teach our kids how to say words so that they sound like “mat salleh” or “gwailo“. Get real!! In the Malaysian education context, we learn English in schoolsĀ  so that we’re able to communicate with others whether in the spoken or the written form. The communicative approach to learning a second language has been used in many Asian countries as well, so what’s so special about Malaysia that requires foreigners to be hired? Besides, we have our own batch of teachers who could speak English well. In fact, many foreigners are surprised that Malaysians could speak good English. We have colleges that teach future teachers how to teach English. Therefore, by hiring foreigners, is the MOE implying that they’re doubtful as to the proficiency of our English teachers? If so, that also means lecturers in teacher training colleges have not been well-trained for the job.

What are the implications of hiring foreigners (no offense to you guys, ok)? First, it’s going to cost a bomb; they are definitely not coming if our government pays them the same salary and get the same perks locals get. Secondly, students who are not used to listening to a foreigner speak English would be intimidated, feel uncomfortable, and end up shying away from speaking. Third, in some cultures, it is rather difficult to say certain letters like “r”, “l” and “w” correctly. Forget about pronouncing the “o” as in “boat” and expressing the distinct “k” as in “like”. It’s really common for our students and adults to say “bot” instead of “boat”,Ā for instance. Don’t the MOE officials know anything about sociolinguistics? Obviously not.

So, what the heck are the objectives of teaching English in schools then? Is it to enable students to speak like a native English speaker a.k.a the Queen’s English variety? If, so, we’re heading the wrong direction. What about grammar then? Don’t you think it’s more critical to be able to construct sentences correctly than to be able to pronounce words like a native speaker?