15 February 2012


Here is a headline and accompanying picture from the front page of the Media Permata of 15 February 2012, reporting on an official visit by a Malaysian minister on the Sultan of Brunei:The headline might be translated as 'His Majesty the Sultan consents to receive visit' (where berkenan is being translated as 'consents', as is normal practice in Brunei).

Also on the same page, this is the headline and picture reporting on a visit by a minister from Canada on the Senior Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, the Crown Prince of Brunei:This second headline might be translated as 'Senior Minister consents to receive visit'.

The use of mengadap ('visit') is interesting here. I was unable to find it in my Malay dictionary, as the Standard Malay equivalent is menghadap (the root being hadap, with an 'h'). In fact, mengadap (with no 'h') is a Brunei Malay word. (It is usual in Brunei Malay to have no initial 'h', so for example hitam ('black') in Standard Malay is itam in Brunei Malay.)

But mengadap is not just a word in Brunei Malay; it is also a word in Bahasa Dalam, the formal Palace Language that is used to refer to the activities of the Sultan and his family.

This suggests that sometimes the most colloquial language, Brunei Malay, and the most formal, Bahasa Dalam, use the same forms that both deviate in a similar fashion from Standard Malay.

Actually, this might be quite widespread in languages. For example, in British English, both the upper-class aristocrats and also less well-educated working class people in places such as Norwich tend to use ‑in rather than ‑ing at the end of gerunds. So upper-class speakers are well-known for talking about huntin and fishin.