Sunday, April 13, 2008

Murdering The English Language

Hantu Laut

How many languages are there in the world ? It is not an easy question to answer. The 'Cambridge Encyclopedia Of Language' puts it at a hypothetical figure of between 3,000 to 4,000, but estimates have varied from 3,000 to 10,000. In Papua New Guinea alone there are an estimated 800 over languages spoken by small pockets of inhabitants scattered all over the island archipelago without any contact with other tribes and the rest of the world until recent times. Deep in the Amazon there are possibilities of people and languages not yet discovered by the outside world. Than there are dead and semi-dead languages like Latin and Sanskrit, not spoken but are still, in varying degree, used in writing. The world of flora and fauna for some unknown reason seems to prefer Latin to name species of animal and plant. Most works of science also used Latin for their nomenclature.

The only language that came close to be universally spoken and had become lingua franca in many parts of the world would be English. It is also a language that had been slayed, stolen, borrowed, bastardised and occasionally murdered. It has also borrowed much of its vocabulary from other languages.

It is probably the most inconsistent language in words and grammar. Same word and spelling can carry as much as 5 to 6 different meanings and are completely unrelated. Words of same spelling can sound differently to carry a different meaning. For the uninitiated the pitfalls are aplenty.

In some part of the world where the country was once colonised by the British and where the local inhabitants found English too intimidating and hard to digest, they have cleverly made a potpourri of the language........strange as it may be but Melanesian Pidgin, which is a concoction of English and local language is the lingua franca in Papua, Soloman Islands and surrounding islands in the South Pacific. English is the official language but only spoken by 1%-2% of the population.

In the Soloman if somebody tells you "I go swim", he is telling you he is going for a shower. If he says "I malis" he means "I am lazy", so buzz off don't ask him to work or he may decide to "kill you".Don't panic he just want to whack you in the face and not literally kill you.

Pidgin is also getting popular in Singapore and Malaysia especially with the younger generation, Singlish in Singapore and Manglish in Malaysia.

In Singapore if Ah Beng tells you are "all fart but no shit" don't get offended.It is not about shit or fart, he is just telling you that you are full of empty promises and if you want to know who Ah Beng is, see below.

"An unsophisticated Chinese boy, usually Hokkien. Stereotypically, he speaks gutter hokkien and likes neon-coloured clothes, spiky, moussed hair and accessories such as handphones or pagers, all of which are conspicuously displayed. He also likes to squat, even when a seat is available.

So you see English can be creolized to form pidgin andemic to a country, community or region.

Most European languages have their form of pidgin spoken in their ex-colonies.The French, Spanish and other Europeans all have their form of Creole, mostly mixed with African languages in parts of Africa and the West Indies. Creole spoken in Jamaica would be entirely different from Creole spoken in Mauritius.

In Malaysia and Singapore we have our own bastardised English. It is quite common for people to mix English with Malay or Chinese.There is nothing wrong using it in casual conversation but putting it in writing is ........not good lah! and shouldn't be encouraged bah!.It is also common to hear politicians in Malaysia speaking English at official functions sprinkled with Malay or Chinese words when they couldn't find the English version of the word.

The Singapore government discourages the use of Singlish as it believes in the need for Singaporeans to be able to effectively communicate with the other English users in the world.The government runs the "Speak Good English Movement" to empahsise the point.

In Malaysia the standard of English has dropped to such an appalling level it got the government worried and decided to bring back the use of English in Maths and Sciences in all schools. The degradation of the language was due to inconsistency in the education policy that changes every time a new minister is appointed to the Ministry of Education.

The Malay language being vocab poor didn't have its equivalent of scientific terminology. The Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka had been slow in converting scientific terms from other languages to Malay.It is also lacking in etymological research.

I have been beating around the bush a bit too long. Let's get to the point now.

The purpose of this writing is that I received an email a few days ago from some unknown person with an attachment which makes interesting reading. The letter which I believe is a poison-pen letter aimed at a lady working in Sabah Foundation who claimed to be a confidante of the Chief Minister and name dropping his name to bully other employees.

Needless to say the letter could have been written by someone who pretended that his or her English is poor to hide the true identity or it could be a fact that her grasp of the language is actually what she had claimed it to be, that she is a product of a local university and apologised for her bad English.

Below is copy of the letter:


Kita kawan of Yayasan Sabah staff an ex-scholars of YS and not happy with what we hear from them. We want to help our friends end their suffering. Lot of staff complained they scared of one lady in charge of Human Resources Division. She was CM confidential secretary before and close to him and use his name all time to get advantage. She use her position to threaten people and use CM to get many advantage for herself. She say CM trust her and use CM name to bully staff and outside people. Why this happen for so long? Itu pengarah very week bah and not competent too long in the job and do not want to work hard because long retired from government. English say "retirement mode" dan sifat tak mengambil berat tentang management Yayasan Sabah ketara sangat sebab dia jadi "yes man" to this lady-'defecto direktor'.

Dia orang punya strategi ialah tindas orang yang pandai (buat keja) dan kasih naik pangkat orang yang tak pandai atau tak cukup qualification. Ini adalah "rule by fear" contohnya; Encik Alex Suinggi admin manager telah diganti oleh si Encik Johnny Billy. Yang sekarang memerah kontraktor- kontraktor atau supplier Yayasan Sabah.

Recently a new organization structure was announced by the Pengarah. My friend in YS showed me the new organization structure but seem not endorsed by the Board of Trustees and the Pengarah acting without authority from Board of Trustees again. They told me that the lady designed the organization chart with the Pengarah and few close staff and implement immediately without discussing with management. She promoted herself to Senior Group Manager without any letter of appointment without any endorsement from Board of Trustees. The management staffs very demoralised and demotivated now and we want to help them.

Kami tunjuk organasasi structure YS yang baru to our friend who have Phd in Management Orginazation in UMS and he laugh. He has not seen such kind of structure before. He says this is against management princip and for Yayasan Sabah must keep the social side and corporate side different entity according to the YS encatment. Both have different roles and objectives. Social is to help people and corporate to make money for social. Combine the two makes it difficult for corporate to succeed. Also social managers are not trained or have experience to run business. Also the corporate entities have their own Board of Directors and CEO so why should they report to Human Resource. It is against company regulation as Board of Directors are accountable for the company operation and not this lady.

With many workload for her as Senior Group Manager failure will come very quickly. My Phd friend also confused whether secretariat is a divison? and why give equal status in the chart. For example Transport Division who have 5 operating companies reports to YS Senior Group Manager of Financial Services & Investment and the same status as YS Investment Committee Secretariat. Very confusing. His opinion that the new organization structure make the Senior Group Manager lady more powerful but can she telan all these things? In the end she cannot perform and efficiency suffer and people blame YS for poor performance. People already complain of poor service from her division, Sometimes takes three months to make a decision. We wonder why this lady was promoted over the Group Manager such as Forestry. Forestry contribute over 70% of YS Group profits but the Group Manager of Forestry now hold a lower rank to the Senior Group Manager of Human Resource s.

We hear the lady is already busy with Hotel and Convention Centre, the new Kenigau Handicraft Centre, the Women Conference, the CEO Conference, and banyak other projects. Not much time spent on human resources activities to support the organization. Also she has most number of staff in YS. These projects involve a lot of money and resources and not helping the people of Sabah directly. She uses these things to make herself look good so that CM promote and Puji her. CM already give her pangkat ASDK in 2006 and JP in 2007. Do not know what she do to deserve this title except angkat kaki CM. She tell staff close to her, now she aim for Datukship and become Pengarah of YS by 2009.

People tell us these conferences lose money and very few international participants attend. Many local participants from the government agencies and NGOs forced to pay and attend just to make up the numbers to make her look good. Last year there was so much noise in the local newspapers about some London investors interested in building hotels and convention centre. YS Staff told us some RM 300,000 was spent to entertain them and the state cabinet was asked to attend luncheon and dinner with them. What happened to these London investors? It seems that there are so many abuse of power by this lady. She travels to London, Brussels, Egypt, Korea first class to do other things not connected with her work and direct responsibility and for what?

If you care about the welfare of all the good people in YS who are long suffering please help. Do not let her destroy Yayasan Sabah. People are scared of her. She is already featured in Malaysia Today and famous. Click on Hajjah Rosmawati Lasuki and you will reach the website and article about her.

All has been said is the truth and anybody can investigate. English saying the truth will prevail. Sorry for my poor engish as I am product of local university. Hope everbody understand our concern.


kittykat46 said...

Kekekekek....I read it twice, and I can roughly understand the gist of the e-mail, but there are still various portions of it which I absolutely can't make sense what he's trying to say.

Ayoyo, Mana U dia grad from lah ?

Zawi said...

This letter can pass off as genuine or an attempt at masquarading as someone with poor command of the English language to hide the writers identity. Whatever it is you can grasp the meaning and the letter is effective enough to do damage to the lady referred by it.
It is with regret that our universities produced graduates that are neither here no there with the usage of the English language.

zorro said...

Two years ago I was engaged by a training provider to do a two day course for Sabah Foundation's (YS)senior managers. During the course of interaction with the participants I had to point out that YS was laboriously bureaucratic. There was no doubt that divisions were such that they were like silos, each with their sacred turf, little political fiefdoms that did not encourage the integration or sharing of resources.
However I must admit that I encountered some individuals who were intelligent, proactive and progressive in their thinking, but not happy in the organisation.
That was to be expected because nurturing of the human capital is not a priority in this many layered conglomerate. Of course if one was to suggest a re-engineering exercise, that would be anathema. It is sad because YS can be an powerful engine of change for the State. My dua sen Hantu Laut. Ah, I like KK though....3 Heneiken for the 10 ringgit!!!!! Can't enjoy that anywhere in the Peninsula.Cheers buddy. Would RAPE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE be appropriate instead of Murder? Just a wild thought! Final CHEERS.

Hantu Laut said...

Although I wouldn't encourage such style of writing, the letter did convey the message.

Hantu Laut said...


It is fine to use in informal or every day conversation but to use it in writing is an aberration.

I agree it did convey the message and the damage.

Hantu Laut said...


The poor lady, whoever she is, has been hounded every now and then.I am seen some articles on her in Malaysia Today a while ago.

It looks either she is too good in her job that makes her the envy of her colleagues or she is a tyrant.

Maybe, I should rename it 'The Rape And Murder Of The English Language" sounds like a good title for a Hollywood movie.