What Manglish Signifies

Essay by dianefooA-, March 2007

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As globalisation increases, so does the loss of human languages. People find it easier to conduct business and communicate with those outside their own culture if they speak more widely used languages such as English, Chinese, or Hindi. Children are not being educated in languages spoken by a limited number of people. As fewer people use local languages, they gradually die out. Those who primarily speak one of the world's major languages may find it hard to understand what losing one's language can mean, and may even feel that the world would be better off if everyone spoke the same language. Endangered languages should be preserved because each and every single one embodies unique local knowledge of the cultures and natural systems in the region in which it is spoken.

Manglish (Malay + English) is the colloquial version of the English language as spoken in Malaysia; it may not be a proper language, but it is one all the same.

Malaysian English has its own historical roots and boundaries. We can trace it back to the time when the British had slowly consolidated their hold on the Malay states in the aftermath of Francis Light's arrival in Penang in 1786. Since then English has been going through different stages of prosperity, decline and revival in Malaysia depending on many factors.

Malaysia is a pluralistic country in the full sense of the word: it is multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-religious. Three main races and no less than 70 indigenous languages, most of which are not recorded yet. A nation with diverse ethnic and linguistic groups can't hope to function well in its day to day affairs if her people are not able to establish a relationship that is mutually intelligible. A relationship that reflects the existence of a mutually intelligible system...