Jawi at risk of extinction

KUALA LUMPUR: A Korean expert in Jawi has expressed concern that the script is increasingly being forgotten in Malaysia and may become extinct.

“Malaysia has to educate the young generation in the Jawi script,” said Prof Dr Kang Kyoung Seok of the Pusan University of Foreign Studies.

Prof Kang, who began his research into Jawi in 1974, regards the script as a one-of-a-kind asset of Malaysia.

Speaking in fluent Malay, the professor who lectures at the Sultan Idris University of Education (UPSI) in Tanjung Malim, added: “Many experts I became acquainted with have retired without replacements.

“Without the experts, who is going to take charge of safeguarding the Jawi script?

“Malaysia should produce more experts in the Jawi script, especially among the young, to succeed the retired experts,” he said.

He said the media plays an important role in ensuring the wide use of Jawi and hoped newspapers using the script, such as Utusan Melayu, would be given a boost to attract more readers.

He suggested the Malaysian Institute of Translation and Books as well as Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka to translate more books into Jawi script.

“In (South) Korea, we translate many books because we want our people to master the Korean language and script more than any other language.

“For us, the Korean language and script are the identity of our people.

“And, in my opinion, the Jawi script is the identity of Malaysians.

“As such, Malaysians should learn Jawi to ensure they have a true Malaysian identity,” said Prof Kang, who came to Malaysia in 1984 to undertake further research into the script.

He said Malaysians were comfortable with the romanised script, which was more widely used compared to Jawi.

He added this was the main reason why Jawi was being forgotten.

Western influence was also a reason because the romanised spelling was adopted from the English language, he said.

Prof Kang said to draw more Malaysians particularly the young to use the script, the Jawi spelling system should be reverted to the Za'ba Jawi spelling system, which is simple and easy to learn. - Bernama

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