Native Flower: The Beauty of Baba Malay

Mari Kita Berbual-bual: Forum on Chinese-Malay Intercultural Exchange
24 - 25 Sep

TranslateSingapore 2016 presents a 2-day main forum that looks at the cultural interflows between the two largest language communities in Singapore – Chinese and Malay. The festival shines a light on the lives and contributions of our pioneer Chinese-Malay translators, with participation in the forum from leading practitioners and scholars in the field. The translators have devoted their lives to bridging the two worlds through translating literary works, building dictionaries, compiling journals and publishing scholarly research. Even as English increasingly became the main language of work and social interaction in Singapore, they have remained passionately involved in providing the means for the two cultures to connect more directly.

Panel 3
Native Flower: The Beauty of Baba Malay
Featuring: Chan Eng Thai, Nala H Lee, Anne Pakir
Moderator: Frederick Soh

This panel focuses on the beauty and richness of Baba Malay, a hybrid language that is the product of the fusion between Hokkien and Malay. However, is the language facing the threat of extinction or is there hope for a renewed flowering as younger members of the Peranakan community and other Singaporeans seek to find something to define their Singaporean identity? The speakers seek to find some answers.

About TranslateSingapore 2016

TranslateSingapore is back this September to celebrate the cultural and linguistic richness of Singapore! Based on the theme “Mari Kita Berbual-bual” (“Let’s Talk”), the festival will present a full line-up of programmes, including the main forum that looks at the cultural interflows between Chinese and Malay; an opening lecture by Dr Henry Liu, president of the International Federation of Translators; translating Shakespeare workshops; Malay language class; storytelling session for children, book launches and more!

On 30 September, we celebrate International Translation Day with special events and the launch of the October edition of Words Without Borders. Guest-edited by The Select Centre, the respected international literature journal will feature new translations of works by Singapore writers Kanagalatha, KTM Iqbal, Kuo Pao Kun, Masuri S.N., Sa’eda Buang and Wong Koi Tet.

To check out more events under TranslateSingapore, please click here. For more information, please email programmes@selectcentre.org or visit www.selectcentre.org.

About Chan Eng Thai

Born to Peranakan parents, Chan Eng Thai has served in the main committee of The Peranakan Association Singapore from 2004 till 2016. Chan was also the association’s Baba Nyonya Convention Committee Chairman, and in 2005 and 2009, oversaw two Baba Nyonya Conventions hosted by the Association in Singapore. An active proponent of Peranakan culture, Chan is a frequent speaker at the Peranakan Museum’s Friends of the Museum. A pantun enthusiast, Chan has written pantuns, which he recited at the many events and The Peranakan Association’s choir, The Peranakan Voices, performed. Chan continuously encourages the Peranakans to speak Baba Malay and endeavours to make Singaporeans appreciate the unique Singapore embodiment that is Peranakan culture and heritage.

About Nala H Lee

Nala H Lee is currently a senior tutor at the National University of Singapore. She recently completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, having obtained her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa in December 2014. Lee is interested in language change brought about by multilingualism, and her specific areas of focus are typology, creoles, variationist sociophonetics, and language endangerment. She is better known for her work on language endangerment as a co-developer of the Language Endangerment Index used by the Catalogue of Endangered Languages on the Endangered Languages Project portal (endangeredlanguages.com), and for her work on Baba Malay. For her dissertation, Lee produced a reference grammar of Baba Malay, titled A grammar of Baba Malay with sociophonetic considerations. The Peranakan people and language are a matter close to her heart. As a heritage speaker of the language, every new thing she is taught by her elders becomes a new bond that connects her even more resolutely to her heritage.

About Anne Pakir

Associate Professor Anne Pakir (Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore) is the Director of International Relations (IRO) at NUS. She obtained her Ph.D in Linguistics from the University of Hawaii, Manoa and focused on a linguistic investigation of Baba Malay for her thesis. A Fulbright scholar at U.C. Berkeley and later at Cornell, Pakir also won a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) award to Tokyo and was an ASEAN University Network (AUN) Distinguished Visiting Professor in Manila. She received the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes academiques in 2010 from France. She serves on several editorial boards in the fields of Applied Linguistics, Language Planning, Language Policy, World Englishes and Asian Englishes. Her most recent publication, co-edited with Lisa Lim (University of Hong Kong) and Lionel Wee (NUS), is English in Singapore: Modernity and Management, 2010 (Hong Kong University Press). She received the Public Administration Medal (Bronze) awarded by the President of Singapore in 2014. She was conferred the inaugural Singapore Association for Applied Linguistics (SAAL) Mentoring Medal of Honour in 2015. She will be conferred the Association Internationale De Linguistique Appliquée (AILA) Honorary Membership at the 2017 AILA Congress.

About Frederick Soh

Baba Frederick Soh has been involved in Peranakan stage productions for the last 16 years with Gunong Sayang Association (GSA), playing the gamut of young male roles in seven productions, including Janji Perot (1999), Kipas Cendana (2003) and Belom Mati Belom Tau (2005). He also appeared in several English and Malay television productions for Mediacorp. In 2009, He was also involved in Bedrooms (Bilik Roda Hidup) by Peranakan Association and National University of Singapore (NUS). Of late, he has been doing more behind the scenes roles. He penned his first script for GSA’s Pagar Makan Padi in 2010 and his directorial debut in 2014 for the Tanda Mata Mak. In 2013, He was involved in the “Preservation of Dondang Sayang” project by the Ministry of Education (MOE). Recently, in 2016, he was also involved in “Digital Dondang Sayang”, a collaboration with NUS and Cosmic Armchair. A fourth generation Peranakan, he is currently the first Vice-President of Gunong Sayang Association.
Event Timeline
  • The event description was updated. Diff 2016-08-30 02:38:26
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Sun Sep 25, 2016
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM SGT
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Glass Room, National Gallery Singapore
Free admission
Venue Address
1 St Andrew's Rd, 178957 Singapore
TranslateSingapore 2016: Mari Kita Berbual-bual