Today, I woke up and as per usual, I was scrolling through my Facebook updates when I came across a Berita Harian link which a friend had posted, I thought long and hard and assessed all angles possible as to why the journalist had decided to use the word ‘HANFON’ instead of ‘Telefon Bimbit’ to describe, handphone.
So, I took out my mobile phone or handphone and checked on my Kamus Pro app as to whether or not Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) had decided to adopt and accept ‘Hanfon’ as an official Malay word.
I typed ‘handphone’ and I got nothing. I typed ‘mobile phone’ and I got nothing.
I typed ‘phone’ and I got 2:
- n (colloq) telefon: can I have your address and – number?, boleh beri saya alamat dan nombor telefon kamu?
- n (phonetics) bunyi, fon.
So, I saw the word ‘fon’ for the second one. MAYBE, I missed something out. I mean, I’m conducting Malay programmes in schools and it’s my personal responsibility to use the correct words and terms in the classroom. Perhaps, in the course of my busy schedule, I could have missed out on something.
So, I searched for ‘hanfon’ in the same Kamus Pro app, which is the official Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) Malay Dictionary application, the same organisation that researches, writes, prints and distributes Malay Dictionaries which Singapore students and teachers (and I hope those who use the Malay Language as part of their work) use.
The search was futile.
Okay, so maybe DBP isn’t updated so I google searched for ‘hanfon’ and the first hit I got was that it was a WELSH translation on mymemory.translated.net which meant, ‘SENT’.
So, at this juncture, is where I feel extremely angry because the reporter had not exercised personal and professional responsibility to ensure that they were using the right words to report in a national publication read by thousands and used by thousands of students and teachers in schools.
I cannot imagine the horror of Malay Language teachers trying to explain to students that ‘hanfon’ isn’t a Malay word and that it cannot be used in writing compositions but then again, how can the Malay Language teacher justify it when a professional writing for the official Malay newspaper in Singapore is using improper words.
For us, Malays and Malay Language Teachers to claim that Malay Language is not being used by students and the young properly, and have difficulty to teach it isn’t just the responsibility of Malay Language Teachers alone. It is and should be the responsibility of all who use the Malay Language, especially so if you are a working professional publishing the NATIONAL MALAY LANGUAGE DAILY.
To cut corners in view of space constraint and switch with using a word that does not even exist in the Malay dictionary is simply irresponsible, lacks integrity, lacks professionalism and clearly, shouldn’t even be allowed to in the first place.
If this improper and unjustified use of the Bahasa Melayu continues at Berita Harian, I cannot imagine how the future of Malay journalism will look like.
So, I’m appealing to all of you reading this, to not only share this post but also, to write in to BH to provide your feedback. That is about all we can do.