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TIME TO 'DIS-ASOSIASIKAN': Some of these borrowed words are simply baffling and unnecessary
I CAME across this Malay word kemenjadian in a Facebook posting last week. Google Translate gave "excel" as its English equivalent. A little bit more research on the Internet and checking the word against the sentence on the Facebook posting, it probably meant the ability/ promise/potential to attain/achieve/succeed. In short, its English equivalent could be achievability or attainability.
So, what happened to the word pencapaian?
I don't know if kemenjadian is a new Malay word and among the newest entries in the Kamus Dewan, one of the books that I had to buy when I first started schooling.
One Kamus Dewan lasted me the entire school system, although it was recommended that we buy new ones every year as new words were added on as the years went by. The dictionary is seen as a complete reference for those learning the language. It has had some 30,000 new Bahasa Malaysia words since the first edition was published in 1970.
In school, and when I first started working, I never had to refer to the Malay-English or English-Malay dictionary. It was pretty easy back then. Words weren't as bombastic as they are now. Also, with online references, it is much easier now to look up the meaning of a word, be it in English or Bahasa Malaysia.
And then, there are those words "borrowed" from English which found their way into the dictionary. Some of the newest entries are akauntabiliti (accountability), kokun (cocoon) and akses (access). You don't have to crack your head to find that the English word "accountability" is kebertanggungjawaban in Bahasa Malaysia while "cocoon" is karung kepompong/membendung and "access" means laluan.
A friend of mine, writing a piece for a news portal, used the word diasosiasikan. I would not be surprised that if used frequently enough, it could find its way into the Kamus Dewan. By the way, the word means "associated with".
Apparently, the words are selected based on how often they appear in reading materials and also in everyday conversations. The rule of thumb in selecting a new word is that it must be spotted at least three times to qualify as a trigger -- this is when it is considered for inclusion in Kamus Dewan. It baffles the mind, doesn't it?
By the way, I read that Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka has a committee comprising eight to 10 linguists who screen newspapers and other material daily in search of new words for inclusion in the Kamus Dewan. Experts from various fields would also be called in if the word concerns specific fields such as science and technology, religious terms, dialects and slang.
I guess that's how the slang makwe found itself listed in the dictionary. It stands for "girlfriend". But the children of my Malaccan cousins also call their grandmother makwe! I wonder if the slang balak, which stands for "boyfriend", will be included any time soon. In English, it means logs.
I actually find it refreshing to learn old Bahasa Malaysia words. There are still some Malay words that we have not used (or no longer use for whatever reasons), either orally or in writing.
At the 2010 Umno general assembly, I remember party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak used what was termed as bahasa bangsawan in his speech. He used words such as bitara (unique) and berpilin (integrated/bound together).
I want to start writing in Bahasa Malaysia. I know it is one of the ways to improve in the command of the language, in fact, in any language but if writing well in the language means using foreign words that have been Malaysianised, or even slang, I think I am better off sticking to English.