By Hamidah Ismail
The importance of upholding the sovereignty of the Malay Language in the Sultanate was underlined by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during the Golden Jubilee Celebration of the Language & Literature Bureau at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas yesterday.
In a Titah marking the 50th anniversary of the Language & Literature Bureau, His Majesty highlighted his concerns over the negative effects of globalisation, particularly the improper use of the Malay Language via SMS and the cyber world.
"It is even worse when locals are influenced and are more comfortable with foreign languages as a medium of communication (rather than) their mother tongue," lamented His Majesty.
"Foreign languages, however, should not be edged out," added His Majesty, "as they are also important to the progress and development of a nation".
The important thing is that "we continue to uphold the sovereignty of our language and never let it be treated as a 'second-class' language," His Majesty reaffirmed.
As history has proven the substantial values and potential of the Malay Language, His Majesty yesterday urged the Language Council of Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia (MABBIM) to formulate ways to upgrade the Malay Language to an international language.
His Majesty urged the nation to follow in the footsteps of other nations that have progressed alongside their mother languages.
"This vision is not unrealistic … it is based on facts and support from respected scholars," said His Majesty, as he cited some of the great historical achievements of the Malay Language.
For instance, during the 7th - 13th Centuries, the Malay Language was endorsed as the 'lingua franca' or the bridging language of administration, liaison and trade throughout the Malay Archipelago. Furthermore, from 1603 to 1708, 12 Malay dictionaries were known to be published by foreigners, which proved the determination of Europeans and other foreigners in learning the Malay Language at that time.
"In the past five decades, the Language & Literature Bureau has been the main institution to be given the trust and responsibility to carry out the cultivation and progress of Malay Language in Brunei Darussalam," His Majesty said, adding that the bureau's achievements included the rise of award-winning writers capable of producing Malay Literature on par with international standards.
Meanwhile, His Majesty expressed his satisfaction over the strengthening of the Malay Language as regulated in the 1959 Constitution of Brunei Darussalam and an amendment in 2004 to make Malay the main language of Brunei, thus proving the acknowledgement of the role of the Malay Language by His Majesty's Government.
"This act also signifies that the Malay Language will not be overruled by any other languages in its role towards a comprehensive understanding of the concept of culture and approach of the Malay Language," His Majesty said.
His Majesty also expressed his appreciation over efforts to uphold the sovereignty of the Malay Language in the country through various programmes and the implementation of the culture of reading among youths and the community in libraries nationwide. The monarch also urged ministries, government departments and the private sector to implement proactive strategies to conserve the Malay Language, predominantly in the public services.
The significance of the systematic and pedagogical methods of spelling and writing in the Malay Language were also highlighted by His Majesty.
"As the Malay Language has two methods of writing and spelling - Jawi and Rumi - the validity of its meaning must be adapted and adjusted with their respective pronunciation, particularly 'Rumi' wordings with religious basis.
"For example, the Jawi letter of 'Ain has now been replaced with the Rumi letter 'a' and the Jawi letter Dhot with 'd'. Because of this, words like 'Da'awah' and 'Kadhi' are now pronounced as 'Dakwah' and 'Kadhi' respectively," explained His Majesty
His Majesty urged linguists and religious personnel to work hand in hand to refine and supervise the usage of the Malay Language.
With His Majesty's announcement yesterday that from now on, July would be the "Language Month" (Bulan Bahasa), the monarch expressed his hope that the community would embody a positive attitude and stand united as an honourable nation that upholds its own language.
- Borneo Bulletin
(18th September 2011)