Monday, December 17, 2007

This is another photograph that relates to a comment I left elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

Not even a hint of Malay on that poster. Do all the Malays speak English already, or are we not even pretending that is our target market now?

Michael said...

Well, firstly the target audience of this is not the ethnic Malays but the ethnic Chinese, and their first language seems to generally be Hokkien (Fujian) Chinese. Secondly, as instruction would be in English, anyone who cannot speak English would not find this very useful.

One actually sees a good deal more written Chinese than written Malay in Penang. And one sees vastly more written English than either. The day to day language of commerce seems to be English. (Real Estate agents have signs purely in English for instance). I rented a car from a couple of young guys in Penang, and when I brought the car back they immediately asked me where I was going (the aiport) and when I said I needed a taxi they said yes, quoted a charge, and then we got back into the rental car and they drove me to the airport. They turned on a radio playing a rock music station, and the DJ was speaking entirely English.

So yes, Penang seems almost English speaking in the same way that Singapore does. (ie people speak lots of languages to one another but English binds everything together). It was much more so than I was expecting. As to what the rest of Malaysia is like, I do not know. As it is less ethnically mixed and was British dominated for a shorter period, I would guess less than Penang.

(There is an area of Penang around the airport that consists of large white buildings with the logos of companies like Intel, Dell, Motorola, and a lot more similar on the sides. If you are going to have foreign investment, this is the kind you *really* want, and I would assume the widely spoken English and the cultural easiness of a fomer British colony is a big factor in it being there).

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