Korean expert fears jawi script increasingly being forgotten
Posted on January 30, 2012, Monday
KUALA LUMPUR: A Korean expert in Jawi has expressed concern that the script is increasingly being forgotten in Malaysia, especially by the younger generation.
Prof Dr Kang Kyoung Seok, of the Pusan University of Foreign Studies who lectures at the Sultan Idris University of Education (UPSI), said that if such a situation continues, the script may become extinct.
“Malaysia has to educate the younger generation in the Jawi script. Many experts whom I became acquainted with have retired without replacements. Without the experts, who is going to take charge of safeguarding the Jawi script?” he said in fluent Malay.
He said Malaysia should produce more experts in the Jawi script, especially among the younger generation, to succeed the retired experts.
Dr Kang, who began his research into Jawi in 1974, regards the script as a one-of-a-kind asset of Malaysia.
He said the media plays an important role in ensuring wide use of Jawi, and hoped that newspapers using the script, such as Utusan Melayu, will be given a boost to attract more readers.
He also said that the Malaysian Institute of Translation and Books as well as Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka should translate more books into the Jawi script.
“In (South) Korea, we translate many books into the Korean language and script because we want our people to master the Korean language and script, more than any other language.
“For us, the Korean language and script are the identity of our people. And, in my opinion, the Jawi script is the identity of Malaysians.
“As such, Malaysians should learn Jawi to ensure that they have a true Malaysian identity,” said Dr Kang, who came to Malaysia in 1984 to undertake further research into the script.
He said Malaysians are more comfortable with the romanised script which is more widely used compared to Jawi, and this is the main reason why Jawi is being forgotten.
“Besides, Western influence is also a reason because the romanised spelling is adopted from the English language, which makes Malaysians more comfortable with the romanised script,” he told Bernama.
Dr Kang said the Jawi spelling system should be reverted to the Za’ba Jawi spelling system, which is more simple and easy to learn, to draw more Malaysians, particularly the young, to use the script.
If Malaysians master the Za’ba Jawi spelling system, they will easily understand the more ancient Jawi spelling system and can read the Jawi manuscripts written hundreds of years ago, he said.
“This is because the Za’ba Jawi spelling is based on the ancient Jawi script derived from the writings of the Quran. The present Jawi script is based on the romanised script which is far different from the ancient Jawi script,” he said. — Bernama