05 February 2012

Pusat Rujukan Persuratan Melayu

There is a splendid on-line resource for looking up words in Malay: Pusat Rujukan Persuratan Melayu ('Malay Literature Reference Centre'). Not only are the explanations, often in both Malay and English, pretty good, but lots and lots of valuable examples of actual usage are also provided.

For example, this morning I wanted to look up muafakat, a word that occurs in the main headline on the front page of today's Media Permata; and I easily found that it means 'to agree with' or 'to be in accord with', with plenty of good examples of how it is used.

One thing that is interesting about the entries in this resource is the widespread use of abbreviations. For example:
  • dengan ('with') is always written as 'dgn'
  • yang ('which', 'who') is written as 'yg'
  • kepada ('towards') is 'kpd'
and many, many more. The basic rule seems to be that all vowels are omitted, and 'ng' is simplified to 'g', though I am sure this is too simplistic.

Given that such abbreviations seem to be sanctioned by the compilers of official dictionaries, does that mean that teachers of Malay in schools are less opposed to the use of SMS-style abbreviations among their pupils than their English-medium colleagues? There seems to be a widespread (but probably unfounded) fear that use of SMS abbreviations is undermining the ability of children to write properly in English. Does the same concern affect Malay? Or are Malay teachers more relaxed about the issue?