By Muhamad Najkhan Mazlan
Photo by Noor Azreen Awang
SERDANG, 8 March (UPM) - Language plays a crucial role in building up national morale and spirit. However for society to be truly become a progressive one, its people must understand the importance of making their language relevant culturally.
A culturally relevant language is not a new concept as it has been around since the 5th century B.C. as the main theme of global linguistic history, said Dr. AwangSariyan, Director General DewanBahasadanPustaka (DBP).
He said this during his public lecture here under tbe Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) distinguised alumni lecture series on 8th March.
He said that the relationship between language and culture is intertwined and as such, it cannot be separated from each another.
“The very existence of any word in a language relies heavily on the existing culture which the society adheres to.”
Culture in this context refers to all systems that are in place within a society. These systems cover areas of politics, economics, social, thinking and any other related areas which require language as the medium of communication.
““As language and culture are intertwined, hence this is where the concept of culturally relevant language is formed,” he said.
To further elaborate, Dr Awang said a language that has reached the level of cultural relevance must be able to become a language of reason, knowledge, that cuts across borders and societies, higher language, supremacy and aesthetics.
Language of reason is synonymous with rationality. Language of science contains aspects of rationality and science which is based on Islamic religious principles. Language of knowledge refers to a language’s richness to express knowledge that will lead to becoming its medium expansion of knowledge to the society at large.
Dr Awang was seconded to Universiti Pertanian Malaysia as a lecturer at the Malay Language Department of the Education Faculty from 1986 to 1988 before it was re-named Universiti Putra Malaysia.
He came back to UPM as the professor of Linguistics and Languages at the Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication of UPM from 2004 to 2006 before he was promoted as Director-General of DBP from 1st January 2012.
Dr Awang also said that apart from functioning as the language of knowledge, the cultured language should cut across all the main areas of life, meaning that it must be the main pillar of administration and law of society. – UPM
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