12 March 2013


It is interesting to compare sentence length in English and Malay. Here is the final paragraph in an article from page 3 of Media Permata of 12 March 2013 about changes in the speed limit that have been introduced, quoting the Minister of Communications:

Beliau juga menyatakan bahawa perubahan itu juga adalah untuk keselesaan dan keselamatan pemandu kenderaan berat dan komersial di mana dari permerhatian yang dibuat, had laju yang ada pada masa ini telah banyak menyebabkan pemandu-pemandu kenderaan berat melanggar peraturan seperti memandu melebih had laju atau membawa lebih muatan kerana ingin cepat sampai serta mengaut keuntungan yang lebih.

This might be translated (rather badly as) as:

He also said that this change also was for the comfort and safety of drivers of heavy goods and commercial vehicles whereby from observations that have been made, the speed limit that exists at the current time too often causes drivers of heavy vehicles to break the rules such as driving over the speed limit or carrying too large a load because they want to be fast and grab a greater profit.

Obviously, this is excessively long in English, though it seems to work fine in Malay. And this illustrates the tolerance for long sentences in Malay. Note in particular the use of di mana in Malay as a general-purpose linking conjunction. I have translated this as whereby in the English, but we really don't use whereby like that.

One problem is that students often do use whereby in their written English, and this seems to be influenced by written Malay. I sometimes advise students never to use whereby ever again. It is quite a rare word in English, and its use by Bruneian students almost always creates sentences that are too long.