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Friday, October 17, 2008

Ollie's Search for Golden Hope

“Kehinde did not let Albert down. She treated her guests to the whole array of Nigerian traditional styles and fabrics, from guinea boubou to aso-oke iro and buba, to the Igbo lace blouse and George lappa, ending with the Igbo ceremonial costume of white otu-ogwu. This consisted of a cloth wound around her body beneath the armpits, leaving her shoulders bare. Precious coral beads adorned her neck, hair and ears. The outfit was to emphasize her position as first wife of the first son, and the mother of a son herself. Kehinde reveled in the impression she created.”

Above paragraph was taken out from a novel by Buchi Emecheta entitled Kehinde. In this paragraph, we can see that the author had uses some words that belong to her community, to be exact; they were used in Igbo society in Nigeria. Boubou, aso-oke iro and buba, lappa and otu-ogwu are examples of traditional Yoruba women’s clothes and these show us how the author wanted to encode her values, culture and belief in her writing. In other words, she had use nativisation technique in the novel thus we can make clearer impression on the background of the story. Apart from that, nativisation is also used as an act of dissent against colonial or imperial autocracy and control. In most writing, there are six level of nativisation used; form, context, literary devices, thematic concern, genre and purpose. To discuss further about nativisation, here we’ve got a short story by Syed Adam Aljafri “Ollie’s Search for Golden Hope” and we would go on with the identification of nativisation techniques used and evident found in the story. The three main forms that would be thoroughly discussed here are nativisation of form, context, and literary devises.

First of all, it is the nativisation of form. To be precise, this level of nativisation consists of three subdivisions which are lexical, syntax and cohesive structure. Lexical nativisation is words that have been borrowed or direct translation from one’s native language to be written in English text. For example, in this story, Syed Adam had used the Malay word abang which means addressing someone older (man) or a wife calling her husband to show respect. Other Malay words such as ulam, pucuk paku, and sambal belacan are examples of Malay dishes. Ulam are nutritious appetizer, leafy vegetables that are usually eaten raw by Malays. Sambal belacan is chilly toasted shrimp-paste cake ground with tomato and these two dishes go very well together. In addition, the author used the word kenduri, which means a type of cultural and religious celebration by Malays. Obviously he can always use English words to describe pucuk paku; fern shoots but indeed, using the word pucuk paku and any other Malay words had more effect in highlighting the local accent. Next, we’ll go on further with syntax; code switching, code mixing, and grammatical patterns. In this story, there are many dialogues or sentences that portray ‘Malaysian English’. For instance,

“Sorry about that, nothing personal, ahh? Fool’s gold. Just iron pyrites lah. No real value commercially.”

Ah, trying to potong trip to cut off Megat from his “gel-pren” tonight, eh? Wah suddenly someone is very sombong, too proud to join us ordinary folk! Be careful, don’t be lured by a pontianak succubus who’ll drain your nuts and suck out your soul!

“Hey, don’t pretty-pretty yourself too much, the mermaids waiting for me will turn into dugong seacows for you!”

The italic words are used not elsewhere but in oral or written Malaysian English. The word pontianak is the example of allusion where it is referring to “Malay woman ghost”. These are indeed examples of nativisation of form, under the syntax and cohesive structure subdivisions. Throughout these sentences, we might quickly assume that these sentences are uttered by Malaysian, where English is used as a second or foreign language, and distinct variety evolves.


Next, we will discuss about nativisation of context. The story was set up in Malaysia, to be precise, at the area of Kelantan River, Gua Musang, Gemas, and Kuala Kerai. Characters are also Malaysian, namely Gazz Babar from Kedah, Senawee Jumaat of Perak, Aberdeen Annuwar of Melaka, Megat Jajj and lastly Ollie. These example of local places and people have proved that the text have been nativised by simply using those Malaysian names. Moreover, one of the issues that have been raised here is about greediness; how this manner can bring us to suffer, even losing lives. Searching for the gold does not only make Ollie having debt here and there, but also he looses his friends, drawn in the mass of rain water. And after all the effort and sacrifice, he indeed gets nothing; the gold in his right fist is not known where it really comes from.

Other evident of nativisation in this short story can also be identified in the form of literary devices. First of all, the symbol of gold as something that can make people wealthy. There are also similes found such as; “…..the mass of rain water which continued to grow like a jinn, a genie released after millennia of bottled confinement.” The underlined words mean that the running water is being compared as big as a released genie. Jinn is another name of genie; a spirit believed by Malay communities. Other example; He just had time to exclaim “Ya Allah!” before a second but smaller onrush of water swallowed him like a gigantic python. Again, water is described as another huge creature which is as big as a gigantic python. Allusion, under the form of literary devises can be found early in the story where Gazz make a glib remark about has Saddam come to defeat Bush. This refers to Iraq’s political situation that has been recently happened. Another example can be found in one of the paragraph within the story; “Gold-gold-gold! I’ve found it, brothers! GOLD, oh GOLD!” Megat was jumping and dancing around like an oversized supporter of Hanuman the Monkey God in the “Ramayana” epic, whose fellow primates had built a bridge across a sea strait by holding one another’s tails to allow the hero to cross. Megat here is described as excited, and acting like one of God in “Ramayana” epic. Hanuman the Monkey God is written here to intentionally make us think of that specific belief in Hinduism.

To sum up, there are lots of nativisation techniques applied by the writer in this story and some of them had been picked out to be analyzed. Three levels that have been discussed previously are nativisation of form, context, and literary devices. Nativisation of form consists of collection of borrowed word or direct translation from one’s native language to English. The same goes with the sentence construction and cohesive structure which have native accent in the usage of words used. Allusion, make it obvious that the writer uses specific words that portray local culture and believes. Under the key word nativisation of context, Malay characters and places in Malaysia had been used numerously. And last but not least, nativisation of literary devices such as symbols, similes, and allusion are also depicted in the story.

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