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Vanishing sounds of Kristang

Posted on 10 August 2007 - 02:45am

When tongue-in-cheek lyricist Hang Mokhtar sang his Malay ersion o! the catchy" e ergreen song #Aiyoh-yoh $amy# in the mid eighties" it %as generally thought that the e&'ression aiyoh is deri ed !rom (amil) *ot so" says retired music teacher +oan Mar,eck" %ho is on a mission to 'reser e the -ristang ./ristao0 language) Mar,eck" a Portuguese descendant" is documenting the !ast anishing tongue" and has 'u,lished a ,ook (he -ristang Poet o! Malacca sho%ing the origins o! %ords like aiyoh) Another !amiliar e&'ression" alamak" the Malaysian e1ui alent o! oo's" is not o! Malay origin des'ite the common ,elie!" says Mar,eck) 2oth aiyoh and alamak she says are deri ed !rom the Malacca Portuguese settlement %hich is the home o! -ristang" a su,-creole ernacular language orignating !rom Portuguese) Although these terms ha e gro%n to ,ecome common currency in the s'oken language o! Malaysians" Mar,eck claims aiyoh and alamak are as old as the 500year-old -ristang tongue) #-ristang %as once s'oken on a daily ,asis ,y the 3urasian community ,ut is no% ,ecoming o,solete"# she said) Mar,eck %ants to 're ent the language" %hich %as only s'oken ,ut ne er documented" !rom ,ecoming totally e&tinct) With the su''ort o! 4i5i (elecommunications $dn 2hd" the Portuguese-3urasian is seeking to re i e the culture o! her community %ith the launch o! 4i5i6s #Ama7ing Malaysians Pro8ect#) Her ,ook" launched early last month at the Portuguese $ettlement" is 'art o! the 4igi 'ro8ect to sustain and conser e the many as'ects o! the ty'ical Malaysian heritage) 9 er :0 Malacca students had the o''ortunity to learn the dances" songs and language o! the -ristang during the %orksho's entitled $te''ing u' the 2ranyo" /rooning in -ristang and A%akening and Antici'ation: -ristang 'oetry in motion) (he students are !rom !our secondary schools in Malacca - $M- /anossa /on ent" $M- $t) ;rancis" $M- Padang (emu and $M- <n!ant +esus /on ent) A!ter each %orksho'" the students e&'ressed their e&citement a,out learning arious as'ects o! -ristang and !or some" re-learning the language and heritage) According to the students" it6s trendy to ,e a,le to s'eak -ristang and share their kno%ledge %ith others)

#<t6s %onder!ul to see all the di!!erent races come together to learn and cele,rate the ,eauty and essence o! -ristang"# she said) Mar,eck has 'u,lished t%o ,ooks - =ngua Adan7a .An <nheritance0 in 1>>5 and ?inggu Mai .Mother (ongue0 in 2005) $he has also %ritten a 'lay .monodrama0 titled $eng Marianne .Without Marianne0 !or the 2007 ?uso'honia ;esti al in Macau) (his talented %oman is no% %orking closely %ith the children !or the ne&t three months to 'roduce a musical she %rote !or this 'ro8ect entitled -a7amintu la Praiya .Wedding on the 2each0) #< think the ,est %ay to learn a language is through drama and song"# she said) (he students %ill then 'er!orm the musical ,e!ore a li e audience at a central location in Malacca to%n !or the 'u,lic to learn a,out the -ristang culture and language) 4uring the launch" Mar,eck also said the %orksho's ena,le students to understand more a,out -ristang culture and heritage" %hich is d%indling as the result o! glo,alisation) According to Mar,eck" a ma8ority o! -ristangs %ould usually s'eak 3nglish and 2ahasa Malaysia to communicate) #9ut o! the estimated hal! a million 'o'ulation in Malacca" there are a,out 200"000 -ristangs and at least one 'erson in a household at the Portuguese $ettlement %ould ,e a,le to s'eak -ristang) #When < launched my !irst ,ook" there %as a sudden re i al and children ,egan to s'eak -ristang) #<6 e recei ed 'ositi e !eed,ack !rom mothers talking a,out their children %ho are no% s'eaking -ristang o!ten"6 she e&'lained) Although other languages are more commonly used ,y all" she said" #one should ne er !orget the -ristang heritage and culture" %hich has in!luenced the %ay %e act" ,eha e and li e today)# (o rene% the community6s interest in its heritage" Mar,eck started the $an Pedro 'ro8ect in %hich the mothers %ere encouraged to ,e the language teachers) #<n this 'ro8ect" the idea o! the #mother tongue# ins'ired me to use it as the title !or my second ,ook"# she said" sho%ing ho% 'assionately she sought to sa e her language) $he added: #;rom the commitment o! these %omen" musicians and singers" %ho are the role models" %e %ill %ork to%ards e ol ing -ristang and kee' the heritage going)# #<t is e ol ing in a ery rich %ay ,ecause it a,sor,s the arious languages and cultures - Malay" /hinese and <ndian) #(he a%areness 'rogramme ,y 4i5i is an e&cellent %ay to highlight the -ristang heritage and 'reser e it"# Mar,eck said)

(he team ,ehind this 'ro8ect %ere $herine $ee $%ee /hoo" A,dul -arim ;akir Ali and Ale& -uek (eck $eng" the head o! the technology de'artment) #(his %as a learning day !or us too"# e&claimed A,dul -arim" %ho realised they kne% ery little a,out a culture that has ,een in e&istence !or the 'ast 500 years) #4i5i acts as a heritage educators" %here %e create the a%areness and ho'e the children %ill continue to learn more a,out -ristang"# said -uek) 4i5i Ama7ing Malaysians conducts !i e 'rogrammes yearly %ith the aim o! 'reser ing Malaysia6s nature" culture" art" architecture and social heritage ,y engaging the 'eo'le in the area %here the heritage e&ists) 3 ery 'rogramme is usually s'onsored ,y di!!erent de'artments" %hich takes on the entire 're'aration) According to 4i5i director o! cor'orate a!!airs Ali7akri Alias the !irst 'art is 'ro iding the in!rastructure" !unds and 'u,licity ,ut the 'eo'le are the soul ,ehind the success o! each 'ro8ect) #=sually" %e %ould initiate the 'ro8ect" then %e let the community lead and 'artici'ate in the 'rogramme" %hich e entually gains momentum and takes on a li!e o! its o%n"# said Ali7akri) He said 4i5i ho'es to contri,ute in a real and meaning!ul %ay to strengthen the links ,et%een Malaysia6s 'ast and its 'resent as %ell as the !uture)