This whole month of October is designated by the government as the Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan.
What, you didn't know it?
Shame on you.
The national level Bulan Bahasa was launched in Kuching on 6 October by the Deputy Prime Minister. Since then, every state has also launched their own state level Bulan Bahasa program.
The government says it is serious in retaining the role and dignity of Bahasa Melayu as the national language. Language after all is a powerful tool in our endevour for national unity, especially in a plural society like Malaysia.
The Bulan Bahasa program had its beginning as the Minggu Bahasa Kebangsaan in 1960. Since then it has come in various forms and guise, and been through its fair share of ups and downs.
Now, with the Deputy Prime Minister heading the Minsitry of Education, it has come back with a bang - albeit just a small bang.
The Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan Peringkat Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya was launched just recently on 22 October. Working with some officers from Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in preparation for this event presented me with some new exposure to the world of Bahasa Melayu. Admittedly, it was just a short exposure. But it was a valuable one nevertheless.
A much needed one too.
Yes, of course Bahasa Melayu is my mother tongue. So therein lies the irony. Like many others, I tend to take it for granted and stop learning it the soonest I left my secondary school.
Meanwhile the language has gone through some changes. It has been adapted and updated to suit the current day and age. To illustrate, consider the following sampling of spelling of everyday words:
bola sepak (not bolasepak)
surat khabar (not suratkhabar)
insya-Allah (not insyaallah)
maksimum (not maksima)
There you have it. And these are just for starters. The rest you'd have to make the effort to find out for yourselves.
As the saying goes: "Tak kenal maka tak cinta". So go on, make some effort. Get to know your national language now.
"Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa"