Recently, the Dean of FASS, Dr Noor Azam OKMB Haji-Othman, sent a New Year message to all staff. It was both in Malay and English. The Malay was:
Kini kita sudah sampai ke penghujung Semester I dan tahun 2013. Saya ingin mengambil kesempatan ini untuk mengucapkan berbanyak Terima Kasih kepada semua staff atas segala sokongan dan kerja keras abis kita semua selama ini. Kepada yang bercuti, selamat berehat bersama keluarga di musim percutian ini. Kepada yang meraikan, Selamat menyambut Hari Natal. Kepada semua, diucapkan Selamat menyambut tahun baru 2014!
while the English version was:
We have come to the end of Semester I and the year 2013. I would like to thank all FASS staff for all your support and hard work during this time. For those who will be going away or taking leave, I wish you a happy holiday with your family and friends. For those celebrating, have a good Christmas. And to all, Happy new year 2014!
While these are similar, they are not quite identical; and comparison reveals some interesting things:
- The Malay seems to be longer, but in fact it has fewer words (61 vs 66). The perception of greater length probably arises because some of the Malay words are quite long (e.g. mengucapkan vs 'thank'), and many of the English words are short function words ('to', 'of', 'the', 'a')
- The Malay has mengambil kesempatan ('take the opportunity'), but this is omitted in English.
- The Malay has berbanyak Terima Kasih ('many thanks'), while the English just has 'thank'. Are Malay colleagues offered more thanks?
- The Malay has yang bercuti ('those on holiday'), while the English has 'those who will be going away or taking leave'. Maybe English readers are more likely to go away, as they have fewer family here?
- The Malay has bersama keluarga ('with family'), but the English has 'with your family and friends'. Maybe English readers are more likely to spend time with friends as they are in a foreign country?