BAHASA Melayu is a distinguished and classy language, befitting its stature as our national language.
The language is infused with finesse and subtlety, making it one of the most beautiful languages in the world.
Just look at phrases like minta diri, langkah kanan or terima kasih.
Its translation into another language fails to capture its embedded cultural values, rendering it literal in impact.
That said, many feel that Bahasa Melayu is a lesser language. Often, the feeling is that Bahasa Melayu is too simplistic or too poetic.
It lacks the competitiveness to be as lucid and cogent as English or French.
I beg to differ. We feel this way because we do not know Bahasa Melayu well enough to appreciate it.
Admittedly, some words in Bahasa Melayu are not as efficient in letters as compared with English.
We tend to feel that perpustakaan is a mouthful compared with “library”, but we do not use the same yardstick when we compare “comprehensive” with tuntas.
Or maybe we have never heard of tuntas. The point I am making is that we need to continue our lessons in Bahasa Melayu.
As native speakers, we can ill afford haphazard of improper usage of the language.
Its usage needs to be not just correct but also fluent and immaculate.
At the same time, we need to safeguard the sanctity of Bahasa Melayu and nip in the bud preposterous WeChat language.
Here are some ways to achieve it.
We can start by reviewing Akta Bahasa Kebangsaan ) 1963/67 and give it a new breath of life or rather “teeth” to bite.
Missing from legislation is the legal implication to its offender.
Bahasa Melayu is a compulsory subject only up to the secondary level. At the tertiary level, it is an elective subject that is often ignored, unless you are majoring in language or communication.
This needs to change. Those in high offices are expected to have excellent command of Bahasa Melayu.
Only then will knowledge and skills be passed down.
A case in point was that not too long ago, we were anxiously waiting for new Malay words to be unearthed from the thickness of Kamus Dewan at a budget presentation at Parliament.
The music community should show off their prowess in Bahasa Melayu by writing beautiful songs with all the richness of its vocabulary.
It should not just be any words to fit the tempo.
M. Nasir has shown his worth in this. The lyrics in his songs are exemplary, reflective of his mastery of the language.
We could also benefit from better quality Bahasa Melayu publications in the market.
The authors and publishers play an important role to this end.
The public needs to read to learn. Romance novels are fine provided that proper Bahasa Melayu is used.
We should be more supportive and more enthusiastic towards language-related events, such as debates, poems writing competitions, pesta pantun and essay competitions to promote Bahasa Melayu.
It should be publicised in the media and we could tap social media to do this.
However, learning English or other languages will not be at the expense of Bahasa Melayu.
Learning Mathematics and Science in English does not make Bahasa Melayu a second-rate subject.
To object to this without making efforts to uphold Bahasa Melayu is just as ludicrous.
We should promote and not limit children’s learning opportunities.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but our children’s future is at stake.
For now, Selamat Hari Raya, maaf zahir dan batin.
There is no translation for this and this article is in English just to prove this point.
Kebitaraan Bahasa Melayu is at its best display.
SHAHRIL NIZAM ABDUL MALEK
Bukit Beruang, Melaka
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