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An example of use of Malaysia's Rojak language (Bahasa Rojak) in a comment taken from a Malaysian online forum in 2004, where the user writes mostly in Malay with some English words and sentences. The user criticised a Malaysian reality TV show Explorace and compares it with The Amazing Race.
An example of use of Malaysia's Rojak language (Bahasa Rojak) in a comment taken from a Malaysian online forum in 2004, where the user writes mostly in Malay with some English words and sentences. The user criticised a Malaysian reality TV show Explorace and compares it with The Amazing Race.

Bahasa Rojak (Malay for "mixed language") or Rojak language is a Malaysian pidgin (trade language) formed by code-switching among two or more of the many languages of Malaysia. Bahasa means "language", while rojak means "mixture" in Malay,[1] and is a local food of the same name.

History

Warning signs at Malaysian electrical substations still use five of the country's most common languages (top to bottom under the high voltage symbol: Malay, English, Chinese (traditional), Tamil, Punjabi).
Warning signs at Malaysian electrical substations still use five of the country's most common languages (top to bottom under the high voltage symbol: Malay, English, Chinese (traditional), Tamil, Punjabi).

Rojak language of Malaysia can be traced back to 1402, in the early Malacca of Parameswara, an international port where more than 80 languages from a variety of cultures were spoken. Worldwide traders, settlers, and original dwellers speaking multiple languages in a conversation was common.

According to the Encyclopedia of Malaysia (Languages and Literature), it is a contact language, specifically a pidgin, known in modern Malaysia as Rojak language. The uniqueness of Rojak language is in its code-switching style. A person who speaks Rojak language may begin with standard Malay, continue with English, then mix one or two words in Cantonese garnished with Tamil, and finish with Mandarin Chinese or some fashionable Japanese words. During Parameswara's time, when two groups of traders without a shared language met, they would try many possible languages in order to best understand each other, and the result would be a pidgin or Rojak.

In the early 16th century, Portuguese visitor Tome Pires found in Malacca

"Moors from Cairo, Mecca, Aden, Abyssinians, men of Kilwa, Malindi, Ormuz, Parsis, Rumi [Turks living abroad], Turks, Turkomans, Christian Armenians, Gujaratis, men of Chaul, Dabhol, Goa, of the kingdom of Deccan, Malabars and Klings, merchants from Orissa, Ceylon, Bengal, Arakan, Pegu, Siamese, men of Kedah, Malays, men of Penang, Patani, Cambodia, Champa, Cochin China, Chinese, men from Liu Kiu [Formosa] and Brunei, Luzonese, men of Tamjompura, Laue, Bangka, Lingga (and in this area 1000 more Islands are known), from the Moluccas, Banda, Bima, Timor, Madura, Java, Sunda, Palembang, Jambi, Tongkal, Indragiri, Kappatta, Menangkabau, Siak, Arcat, Aru, Bata, from the country of the Tomjano, Pase, Pedir, from the Maldives."

These peoples came to Malacca with junks, pangajavas, and ships, and by 1511, Malacca had a population of 50,000 people, including a resident trade community that spoke 84 languages.

An example of a multilingual signboard in Malaysia
An example of a multilingual signboard in Malaysia

The British brought in large numbers of immigrants from China and India from the late 18th to mid 20th century. The presence of local Malays, Orang Asli, Peranakans, Portuguese settlers, Siamese Thais, newly arrived Chinese and Indians, Sarawakians and Sabahans, as well as the others resulted in the wide use of mixed language.

Examples

Colloquial and contemporary usage of Malay includes modern Malaysian vocabulary, which may not be familiar to the older generation, such as:

New plural pronouns have also been formed out of the original pronouns popularly nowadays and the word orang (person), such as:

In addition, Arabic terms that is originally used in Standard Malay nowadays has been popularly changed where some of the words / pronunciations in the involved terms has being added by the local conservative Muslims by disputing the terms suggested by the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), claiming that the involved terms with implementation of the additional words / pronunciations is the real correct terms as same as stated in the Qur'an, where it is predominantly used by the local Muslim netizens in the social media nowadays. The several involved terms in comparison to Standard Malay that is popularly used, such as:

Jangan lupa diri

"Do not forget your roots" or "Jangan lupa diri" is a rallying cry commonly heard among Malaysians interested in protecting their linguistic heritage. This statement suggests that, regardless of race, the Malaysian people have their own roots and ancestral origin to protect. In 2002, Tun Dr. Mahathir proposed that English be 'a tool' to obtain knowledge in the sciences and mathematics, as part of education in Malaysia.

Controversy

Code-switching between English and Malaysian and the use of novel loanwords is widespread, forming Bahasa Rojak. Consequently, this phenomenon has raised the displeasure of linguistic purists in Malaysia, in their effort to uphold use of the prescribed standard language.

Bahasa Rojak is widely used, especially by Malaysian urban youths, which has triggered concerns about continued proficiency in the Malaysian (specifically Malay) and English languages being mixed, and consequent risks to job opportunities for new graduates. The Malaysian government is promoting the use of standard Malay (bahasa Melayu (baku)) since the end of 1980s, especially in the private sector, and discouraging the usage of Bahasa Rojak, similar to the Singapore Government's Speak Good English Movement and its discouragement of the use of the Singlish (Singaporean-English) pidgin. For example, Malaysian TV station TV3 in April 2006 [2] changed the name of its carnival Karnival Sure Heboh to Karnival Jom Heboh as a result of this concern.

Comic magazines are often criticized for using Bahasa Rojak. Words or phrases written in Bahasa Rojak are often printed in boldface to enable readers to identify them. By the end of 2003, Gempak magazine began using a more formal language style and minimizing use of Bahasa Rojak, including the usage of bold lettering for words deemed colloquial.

During the Standard Malay Language Framework Congress held in November 2017,[3] former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi expressed his disappointment at the poor usage of the national language. Despite Malaysia having achieved 60 years of independence, there are still many Malaysians (especially Malays) who could not speak proper Malay despite being born, raised, and educated in Malaysia.[4][5]

Public opinion

See also

References

  1. ^ M. Saraceni (2010). The Relocation of English: Shifting Paradigms in a Global Era. Palgrave MacMillan. p. 120. ISBN 9780230296916.
  2. ^ "Jom Heboh ganti Sure Heboh". Utusan Malaysia. 13 March 2006. Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Zahid harap KSBM tingkat penggunaan Bahasa Melayu". Utusan Malaysia. 1 November 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  4. ^ Mohd Anwar Patho Rohman (31 October 2017). "Masih ramai tak fasih bahasa Melayu". Berita Harian. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  5. ^ "TPM: Malu tidak kuasai bahasa Melayu walau merdeka 60 tahun". Malay Mail. 31 October 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2018.

Further reading