Olga Receiving Her Prize
Olga is a 19-year-old undergraduate at the Moscow State University in Russia. She has just won the Bahasa Melayu International Public Speaking Contest - Deputy Prime Minister's Trophy - held in Kuala Lumpur on 13 March, 2007. Her speech titled "Can the Malay World Determine the Future of World Governance" won her the first prize. (The title in Bahasa Melayu: "Mampukah Dunia Melayu Mencorak Arah Pentadbiran Dunia Masa Hadapan")
Olga started to learn Bahasa Melayu three years ago. Her desire to learn Bahasa Melayu was beset with obstacles, among them a lack of learning aids and the fact that there are no teacher or student exchange programmes between Malaysia and Russia.
A total of 24 participants from Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, China, The Netherlands, Pakistan, Iran took part in the contest.
Bahasa Melayu is easy to learn compared to many other languages. Furthermore, it has a very wide usage in this part of the world. It is the lingua franca of the Malay Archipelago covering Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines.
There are five vowels in the Malay language: a, e, i, o, u. These five vowels give rise to six pronunciations, with "e" pronounced in two different ways, as follows:
* "a" is pronounced as "ah" (with silent h)
* "e" is pronounced as the vowel "a" as in a, b, c, ...
* "e" is also pronounced somewhat like the English word "err"
* "i" is pronounced as the vowel "e" as in a, b, c, d, e, .......
* "o" is pronounced as the vowel "o", (i.e. remained the same)
* "u" is pronounced as "oo" (sounding a bit like "wu")
Now, if a consonant is matched with a vowel, (for example, "pa" or "fi") can you come out with the right pronunciation by yourself? ("pa" is how you call your father while "fi" is pronounced as "fee"). If you can, then you will have no problem reading aloud correctly a short Malay passage even though you don't understand a word of it.
You see, in the Malay language, the pronunciation of the basic unit remains the same wherever it is found in a word. For example, "pa" is pronounced the same in all the following words: apa (what), bapa (father), pada (at), padang (field), paku (nail), pakai (wear) ....etc.
I still remember how I first learnt the language when I was in Year Two of my primary school. I was a model pupil to my class in Bahasa Melayu pronunciation. My Malay teacher (Cikgu Abdullah - 'Cikgu" means teacher) would ask me to stand in front of the class to recite aloud the basic pronunciation, starting with ba, be, bi, bo, bu, be (second pronunciation); cha, che, chi, cho, chu, che (since the 1970's, ch is replaced with c but the pronunciation remains unchanged); da, de, di, do, du, de; fa, fe, fi, .....on and on, exactly like the way we recite aloud multiplication table.
It was quite a feat because no other pupils came close to my level of ease and fluency.
It went without saying that I was Cikgu Abdullah's pet.
Frankly, there is nothing to boast about here. Firstly, the way I learnt is now considered outdated (and I agree with it). Secondly, with so many new and advanced learning aids around, there are so many more effective and interesting ways to learn a foreign language.
Why not buy a tape or CD to learn Malay conversation before you visit Malaysia. Your travel will be that much more pleasant and meaningful.
If you would like to know more about Bahasa Melayu or to purchase Malay books, magazines, CDs etc., please contact me here. I may be able to look it up for you.
Or visit this very useful site www.bahasa-malaysia-simple-fun.com to learn the Malay language in a fun way.
Let's wrap up this topic with something light, albeit cheeky. Let's try some riddle! (In Bahasa Melayu, it is called 'teka-teki')
Let me give you the original Malay version followed by its English translation.Atas goyang, bawah susah;
Bawah goyang, atas suka.
Translation:When up there is rocking, down there is suffering;
When down there is rocking, up there is rejoicing.
Clue: An outdoor hobby.
Edited by Hang Li Po, 28 August 2007 - 11:48 PM.