Nation and Narration: The Problematics of Writing Malaysia in English Zawiah Yahya (2003)
The Metaphor used by Zawiah in describing the relationship between a nation and the English language is reflected in her reference to the nation being schizophrenic
What is the postcolonial condition? Detach from its colonial past and reconstruct its own identity (culturally and linguistically) Fights with the experience of the past and the effect of globalization “ …between the perceived subversiveness of the language to the agenda for a national identity and the perceived usefulness of the international communication and economic wealth, the postcolonial nation is caught in an ambivalence not of its own making.” (2) Ambivalence-Nation’s multi-linguistic and ethnic identities, two literary traditions, and the clash between national and communal ideologies.
Education System Discrimination between Malay Vernacular and English Education
British system Pay attention to English History, language and literature Produce Malay administrators with a “distinctively” English orientation Malay vernacular schools to keep them contented with their land and cultural practice so that they will not be create social unrest The establishment of ASAS 50in 1950s—to promote Malay Language and literature and resist colonial rule
British system: Between Malay literature and English literature University community centering on English literary tradition Malay writers centering on Malay language and literature for nationalism, independence, social equitability, and resisting the colonial rule and English as the official language
What did the education system do to the people’s attachment to language? 1.A great divide between Malay and English educated Malaysians 2Some of the stereotypes about the Malaysian English writers: continuing colonialist attitudes and non-supportive of national aspiration and of the literary and political activism of local writers 3.In support of the Malaysian writers writing in English: —we must understand their forefathers’ emigration to Malaya as indentured labour from underprivileged socioeconomic margins. This is reflected in Wong Phui Nam’s line: “ a naked and orphaned psyche” ( lost of culture and spiritual resources carried over a “mother” culture) –Their great challenge is finding their own voice within the Imperial centre --the feeling of double exile: by British and by Malaya
The transformation of Malaysian English Language Domesticating” or “Malaysianising” The language is culturally rooted in the Anglo-European tradition—the Malaysian writers writing in English are like outsiders looking in They are pushed into the margin of Commonwealth literature
After Independence? 1957 language policies (p.7) in downshifting the English Language 1951 Barnes Committee Report 1956 Abdul Razak Report 1967 National Language Act
Zawiah Yahya Is there any truth in the claim that Malay language and literature is privileged?
The argument that the Malay language and literature is privileged Establishment of DBP ( Language and Literary Agency) in 1959 to promote national language Novel writing competitions for national language writers Sasterawan Negara Award ( National Laureate) The Federation of national writers 1970
The choice of Malay as the National language Was it the right thing to do according to Zawiah?
Rationale behind the decision and the choice Language and literature are crucial identity-makers. Culturally rooted in the region – reflective of its regional uniqueness. Use of a common language can enable Malaysians of all races to participate in the literary process – a powerful instrument in unification. However, Zawiah points out that a good language policy is nevertheless a critical variable in shaping the essence nationhood.
Zawiah Yahya Does state dictates the choice of language, theme and content to any writer?
Globalisation – fast making English proficiency a matter of necessity.
Does Zawiah Yahya end her discussion with a positive or negative note? Elaborate.