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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mind Your Language !

For Malay language version please visit here.

"English is a Germanic language formed by a fusion of Old English and Norse. If you want to talk about religion or science or law or medicine you must use Latinate words (from French or Latin) and a smattering of Greek. English is basically a skinny barely functional body of Germanic (bones, basic organs and muscles) with a huge overgrowth and brain of Latin and Greek words, more than trebling it in size. Sort of like a massive genius head crab perched on a hillbilly."

The quote above is one posted by a user on an internet forum that I usually frequent and I like that considering that language, as in many other things in Malaysia has and is being politicized much by almost every segment of the society.

There’s this issue about teaching Science and Mathematics in English which I believe now has been scrapped and the call to uphold the Bahasa Kebangsaan (which I very much agree despite ironically I’m posting my blog articles in English).

There are people especially from the upper middle class to the higher class (the haves and the have yachts) who are probably thinking without saying out loud that we should be better replacing Malay as the national language to English. They gave us various reasons to support their claims like most accessible knowledge currently can be found in English.

Photo credit: Google Images
On the other hand, there are those who have said that English, while it’s certainly important, is just a tool. Our dependence of the English language is that we as a society has grown into the end user, rather that becoming the inventor. We are seeking knowledge, not creating and expanding them. We can’t say as of now that the people in Japan, Germany and France for example don’t even bother to make English as their first language since they are a nation of inventors and people even have to learn their language to further develop their product.

Photo credit: Google Images
While I find nothing wrong with learning Science and Mathematics in English for schoolchildren, there are two equally possible scenarios that can happen if that is continued.

First, the students will be better equip to look up further information on their own from outside sources (like the internet) and develop thinking of their own rather than what’s only been though in the classroom. Besides the knowledge in Mathematics and Science, they can also master English at the same time (I don’t know whether killing 2 birds with 1 stone applied to this).

Second scenario however, without proper basic in English, the students may be left behind because they will not know what’s being teach. The terms use in those subjects maybe alien to them and this will cause them to lose interest in the subjects since they can’t catch up. This is because they need to learn and master English first before even learning other subjects in English.

Photo credit: Google Images
There is nothing wrong whatsoever in learning other language. In fact I have regretted that I did not properly learn Arabic and French in school while I had the chance (Arabic is compulsory while French is optional). In fact, the earlier Muslim thinkers actually learn Greeks and Latin too to collect earlier knowledge before translating them to Arabic and then expanding upon the knowledge, creating new stuff with them which contributed to what is known as the Islamic Golden Age when non-Muslim Europe at that time were living in the so called the Dark Ages. In the ninth century, the library of the monastery of St. Gall was the largest in Europe. It boasted 36 volumes. At the same time, Cordoba’s library contained over 500,000.

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During the renaissance the Europeans use all the discoveries to kick start their scientific revolution which leads to the Enlightenment and subsequently to this modern age. They have rediscovered their Graeco-Roman roots via what was saved actually by the Islamic thinkers and even translated Arabic text to their own language. So like the Arabs (including Persians and many other Muslims at that time) and the Europeans, we should not be shy to learn other languages.

Photo credit: Google Images
However we should not forgets our own language. We should not however content to being the end user. Once we become an inventor, others will come and learn our own. After all, Malay is not a ‘small’ language. It’s a language (including all the dialects) being spoken by more than 150 million people. However, to become inventor we should all learn a new language, a language that can send humans to the moon and outer space.

We should all learn Java ! 

Photo credit: Google Images

Disclaimer : All images are for illustration purposes only and this blog author does not claim any copyright to the published images and he only copied the images already publicly available on the internet (unless stated). The blog author also wishes to state that his opinion posted on this blog are his alone and not paid by any political parties.

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