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Wednesday December 14, 2005

Bahasa rojak is part of the Malaysian identity

RECENTLY, our Deputy Information Minister expressed his intention to keep “bahasa rojak” out of local films.  

I believe his intentions are good, but feel that we should see it from another point of view. 

I am currently studying in Germany in the state of Baden Württemberg, the base of international companies like Audi, Daimler, Porsche, etc.  

The people here generally don’t speak pure German, but a kind of dialect which is definitely “rojak” in every sense; but no one complains about it.  

In fact, the state government recently ran an advertisement that said “we can do everything, except speak pure German.” 

I disagree that mixing Malay with English is a show of inferiority.  

Language is used to convey messages, and if a certain English or Malay word is more effective and precise, then why not use it? Let's not forget that our “bahasa rojak” includes words taken from the Malay, Chinese, Indian and English languages.  

Examples can be found in our everyday life.  

I recently found out that cuak, which is used by many Chinese, means “being afraid” in Malay as well.  

Suka and tapi have the same meanings in Hokkien and Malay.  

This is the product of decades of racial integration.  

Nowadays there are a lot of English words being added to the mix. That does not mean we are losing our identity. It is simply a wonderful characteristic and perhaps “ability” of Malaysians.  

This “bahasa rojak” can in fact hold us together as Malaysians.  

Even in a foreign land, I can identify Malaysians by their speech.  




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