Mutilation of Language (Recycled)
"TUKANG RIPEE KASUT" was a recent addition to the signboards along Jalan Tutong in the Kilanas/Sengkurong area. The first time I saw it, I had to smile. I am sure the person putting it up is not exactly the most literate Malay speaking person. Someone said that could have been a marketing gimmick and therefore deliberately trying to catch the eyes of thousands of motorists, on the other hand, that someone could genuinely believe that's how it's spelt. I suspect more of the latter.
If you drive along any Brunei roads, you would be bound to see signs especially written up or self painted signs full of spelling errors. No doubt the signs are put up by those trades people hoping to generate business and are not that literate when it comes to standard Malay or even English. The question posed would be - shall we allow this to continue? To which some would reply - why bother? But there are those that feel strongly and point out to another roadsign put by by the Dewan Bahasa people which says "Gunakanlah Bahasa Melayu Bahasa Rasmi Negara".
Languages are funny things anyway. I once remembered a radio program which talks about the evolution of certain words. We take for granted that handkerchief means 'sapu tangan' and that we the Malays or rather the Indo-Malays translated it directly from the English word 'handkerchief'. As you would have known, most of the time, handkerchieves are used to blow your nose, wipe your face but generally never to wipe your hands. In the 19th century, the Malay word for sapu tangan was actually sapu hidong which is probably more accurate because that's what we used it for. But over the years, because of the influence of the English language, we lost sapu hidong to become sapu tangan. So, you can see that if something 'wrong' is used often enough, it becomes something 'right'.
Another interesting word is 'gostan' which means reverse in English. How many can actually tell me what the standard Malay word is? Some may venture 'undur', which is technically correct. But a large number of people prefer gostan. Where does the word come from? This one is more interesting as the right English word is 'go astern' which is a naval term for ships reversing. It's going to take some imagination how such a specialised term manages to become a Malay vernacular word. But it did.
So, if you don't stop those people using 'ripee kasut' now, one day 'ripee kasut' will become a proper word and there will be nothing you can do about it.
[This entry is recycled from spaces.msn.com/bruneiresources on January 17th.]