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SMH: Linguists whine over M'sian PM's Strine
By Steve Waldon
27/6/2001 3:43 am Wed
[Orang yang suka mengejek adalah orang yang tidak beradab.
Apatah lagi bila yang diejek adalah satu bahasa yang tentunya
akan mengundang kemarahan bukan seorang dua tetapi berjuta-juta
penduduk yang sekian lama menggunakannya. Ini termasuk rakyat
Australia yang telah menyumbang tenaga dan kepakaran kepada
Malaysia. Mahathir telah merusakkan kemesraan sesama manusia
dengan mengusik bahasa. Apakah ini satu contoh yang baik untuk
diikuti semua? Beginikah cara seorang bapa mengajar anaknya
berbicara? Tepuk dada tanya selera!
Linguists whine over Malaysian PM's Strine
By Steve Waldon
The rain in Spain may have dripped off his tongue, but the Malaysian
Prime Minister's weekend attempt at an Australian accent could start a
Foreign Ministry officers have decided to store away Dr Mahathir
Mohamad's mocking for another time, but experts in linguistics
yesterday found his impromptu Strine mildly diverting.
"It's almost a music hall stereotype of an Australian accent," said Dr
Mark Newbrook, from Monash University, Melbourne. "It wasn't that
convincing because the accent involved very specific vowel sounds - it
was a parody."
Perhaps not since Meryl Streep alarmed Australian filmgoers by saying
a "dango" had taken her "boy-boy" has faux-Strine created such
Linguists said evidence the Australian accent was more difficult to
master than others was empirical, but there were good reasons for Dr
Mahathir sounding unlike Chips Rafferty.
"The sounds of accents are well below our conscious control," Dr
Ms Kate Burridge, a linguistics expert at La Trobe University,
Melbourne, said people trying to mimic the Australian accent often
emphasised the nasality of our delivery - the characteristic most
readily identifiable in Strine. But it is their emphasis on the
drawn-out vowel twangs that betrays the imitator, she said.
Dr Newbrook added: "Real Australians detect the very fine variations:
they can't tell you what the hell they're listening for, all they can
tell you is they are aware of a difference."
If the Malaysian PM's audition for a part in Crocodile Dundee IV was
as edifying as Benny Hill's Chinese restaurateur, there was general
bemusement among those asked yesterday.
Dr Newbrook described Dr Mahathir's speech as "politically and
linguistically ridiculous". He said: "It is part of his political
battle with the West. It's at a pathetic level - it's a pity he hasn't
got a better point to make." Dr Scott Burchill, a lecturer in international relations at Victoria's
Deakin University, claimed Dr Mahathir's speech was "designed to shore
up domestic political support".
Dr Scott Burchill, a lecturer in international relations at Victoria's Deakin University, claimed Dr Mahathir's speech was "designed to shore up domestic political support".
"It's remarkable given he is sensitive to racial stereotyping by
Australians," Dr Burchill said.
"But Mahathir is famous for making some of the more bizarre statements
of modern times."
Dr Burchill thought Canberra's subdued response to the incident was
indicative of the Federal Government's attitude to the Malaysian
leader. "They're just progressively treading water until his
departure," he said.
COMMON AUSTRALIAN SLANG