Signboard blunders threaten Bahasa Melayu's identity - Experts

14 Jan 2024 07:10am
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX

KUALA LUMPUR - The use of wrong Malay words on signboards, including at food stalls, to the point of changing the actual pronunciation and meaning, needs to be dealt with immediately to ensure that Bahasa Melayu is preserved as the national identity.

Like mushrooms that flourish after the rain, the abundance of signboards with wrong spelling of words will hinder efforts to exalt the Malay language, said a freelance lecturer from the Malaysian Translators Association (MTA), Dr Raja Rajeswari Seetha Raman.

She opines there should be a specific rule to monitor the use of words and language, besides suggesting that signboards that do not follow the stipulated guidelines should be taken down immediately and action taken.

"Many mis-spellings can be seen at food stalls, for example ‘kuetiau’ but spelled ‘kui tiow’, ‘kuewteow’ and ‘kwaytiau’, other words like ‘sate’ but spelled ‘satay’ or ‘satey’.

"This should not happen in today's technological age, as we can refer to the correct spelling by just using a mobile phone through the online dictionary of ‘(Dewan) Bahasa dan Pustaka’ (DBP),” she told Bernama.

According to Raja Rajeswari, if this problem is not dealt with, it will confuse the people, especially students, and hence, the need for the local authority (PBT) to take the responsibility of going to the ground to check on this.

She also touched on the issue of ‘rojak language’ found on signboards, even though the call for the correct use of language is often raised in public discourse and discussion.

"Although I understand that there are businesses which like to use bombastic sentences or words to attract customers, it should not be an excuse for traders to arbitrarily use incorrect language, some even mix Malay and English.

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"For example, a food shop advertising its speciality ‘ayam goreng cheese’ (‘cheese fried chicken) ’on its signboard. The right words for that will be ‘ayam goreng berkeju’ (in Malay)‘ or fried chicken with cheese’,” she remonstrated.

Meanwhile, the former chairman of the DBP Board of Governors Senator Datuk Seri Prof Dr Awang Sariyan said the ongoing issue of language errors on signboards is due to the PBT not enforcing its bylaws on advertisement.

"DBP provides service for verification of language but if the PBT does not enforce the correct use of the national language, most traders do not care about the issue.

"The DBP Act does not empower DBP to act other than ‘reprimand, advise and guide’,” said Awang Sariyan, who is also a Member of the Dewan Negara (Upper House of Parliament).

Thus, he said, traders have to use the right words and spelling on their signboards by verifying the words used with DBP before they can be issued the permit to display their signboards or advertisements.

Awang Sariyan said he had raised the matter in the Parliament last year, requesting the government to speed up the drafting of the new DBP Act, with one of the important points being the enforcement of the use of the national language in various key sectors in the country. - BERNAMA