Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Lately there has been a community service announcement on the radio telling us about how important reading is in our lives. The person said that he had been busy working and exercising but has neglected stimulating his mind through reading. Which is all good for me. Then he urged everyone to read, adding that "not only does it improve your English, it also improves your knowledge". Or something to that effect lah. I can't really remember his exact words.

While I think this is a commendable effort, I do not agree when he said that reading only improves one's English. Because Malaysians are at least bilingual, if not polyglots. Many speak one or two languages other than English. So it is wrong to assume that everyone reads in English. My blog might be written almost entirely in English, but that is not because I am not proficient in Bahasa Melayu. It is just a matter of choice. Same goes to my car mechanic's wife whom I meet at least once every three months when I send my car for servicing. We might be having an entire conversation in Bahasa Melayu, but in her free time she would read her Chinese newspaper and answer phone calls in English.

Why all this brouhaha about Malaysian linguistic gymnastics you might ask? Nothing much really. Only just to share with you my opinion that you can improve your knowledge through reading in whatever language that you are comfortable using, and improve your grammar in that particular language along the way. The more languages you know, the more you have the opportunity to appreciate works written by others. The more your knowledge grows, the more you can share with others. And it doesn't have to be exclusively in English.


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