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06.10.2015 at 08:02 am
Cuttings

Subservient/Servile Written Malay

The differing tone of formal written English and Malay.

Formal and well-written English tends to be assertive, and imperative.

Contrastingly, formal and well-written Malay tends to be subservient in tenor, and almost servile (for lack of a better word).

Case in point: your letters. It'll be strewn with:

"...saya dengan rendah dirinya"
"...saya dengan segala hormatnya"
"...saya mengambil kesempatan ini untuk merakamkan setinggi-tinggi penghargaan"
"...kami mengucapkan ribuan terima kasih"

The above? It feels and reads quite like the linguistic forms of the Japanese registers for respect-granting/self-deprecation: 尊敬語 / 謙譲語.

For native speakers of English, ultra-courteous Malay can come off as gratuitous grovelling. I of course disagree, but I find this cultural difference rather fascinating.


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