Monday, November 12, 2007

Lu Cakap ape? I tak paham ma

I used to be able to speak fluently in Mandarin (my mother tougue), English and also Bahasa Malaysia. In fact, I took part in English, Mandarin and BM debates during my secondary school.

Maybe it seems like it doesn't mean anything for now I'm in tertiary education level. Yet, during that time, one had to have a -certain- level of proficiency in those languages in order to (1)be selected unanimously by classmates for the inter-class competition and (2)have the guts to go along with the selection result.

I thought it's quite easy to maintain balance between these 3 languages, not to mention I also can speak in 3 other dialects (Canton, Hokkien and Teochiew)without causing confusion in the listeners.

As the first semester of my third year in university coming to an end, I couldn't help but to look at my own changes. One of the changes would be in my language command.

I think my English has improved a little (at least I can feel the improvement in the structure of my sentences and maybe a wider variety of choice of words compare to before).

However, my level of Mandarin command has dropped so dramatically -that I really wish it's only a drama. I used to write and speak in elegant sentences, with beautiful proverbs and sophisticated phrases. Always challenge myself to look for the accurate words best suit the thoughts I wanted to express. But now, I only use simple, English-educated-like-person-who-is-learning-quite-well-for-her-Mandarin level of the language.

The same for my BM. I used formal BM during secondary school debates, but now, only the informal BM comes out from my lips as I converse with my Malay friends. I still can catch up with my Malay friends' speed in speaking in BM and response in fluent BM. But I don't think I can give a formal speech in BM by just impromptu, together with the beauty of the lauguage which should always be upheld.

What's the point of getting an A1 for my SPM BM subject if I've lost my ability to speak or write with impressive BM now? It's out national language and as a Malaysian, we should really learn to speak proper BM.

If not because my lecturers use broken BM, I wouldn't have had problem with them teaching me in so-called BM. Like what we did during my SPM. Hey, BM in all maths and sciences (total 5 subjects) and I got A1 for all. And my English is B3 for 1119 paper. What's my problem when I oppose strongly as my lecturers insisted in using BM? Because I find it distracting to use formal and informal BM at the same time. But that's another issue which I shall not talk more here.

I think the reason being I was too obsessed with my English improvement. It's good to have improvement in English, for it's my favourite language ever since Standard One (I was exposed and started to speak in English since kindergarten), let alone it's the global language blah blah (No, I've read an article saying Mandarin is slowly becoming the international language as China's economy gradually taking shapes and occupying the market now, plus they are the host for Olympic 2008, sure there'll be such a leap on Mandarin-speaking awareness) but proficiency in other languages also has to be maintained by continual practices and constant reading in it.

I should read some Mandarin books sometimes, or flip the Chinese newspaper, or try to read the Mandarin version of Bible, which I've always avoided from.

Maybe I should buy myself some good Malay novels. I still remember I used to love this series of Malay novel so much that I visited my school library which is situated at the top floor of the building, once every 3 or 4 days, right after I finished one, until I finished reading all the books from that publisher. It uses formal BM, that's why it's easier for a non-Malay to understand.

But still, I'll continue to read English newspaper and buy Roald Dahl's books =) Hope I can find the balancing point between these three important language in my life. The ability to speak fluently in more than 2 languages is a blessing.

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