segunda-feira, 2 de janeiro de 2012

Comunicação de Joan Marbeck

‘ Encontro Mundial de Mulheres Portuguesas na Diaspora’
At Forum da Maia, Portugal on 24, 25 and 26 November 2011

Towards the Revival, Recognition, Development and Acceptance of the Malaysian-Eurasian people through the Kristang Language, Culture and their Euro-Asian Ethnicity.
Melaka, once the Kingdom of a Prince of Palembang, a Sultanate Seat, a busy Entrepot Port of the Portuguese, later captured by the Dutch and then ruled by the British as one of its Straits Settlements in Peninsula Malaysia, charmingly called a ‘ Sleepy Hollow’ with only a population of a 100,000 persons, is today a feverishly bustling State of Independent Malaysia with UNESCO’s Heritage Twin- City Status. Yes, this is also where it all began for the Eurasian Community of Malaysia.
The beginnings of the Eurasian people in Malaysia came about through marriage of the local population with the Portuguese. The Portuguese were encouraged by the Crown to marry local native women, already existing from among some Arab but mostly Indian traders and their offspring.
By the time the Dutch arrived in the early 17th.Century and the British in the early 19th.Century, the population of Malacca was already very heterogeneous. Its community was formed from several original groups practicing different customs and occupations, each group living in its own quarters of the town and observing its own customs and traditions. There was nevertheless constant contact among them despite being engaged in different occupations like agriculture and other small industries. Fishing was the occupation of a great number of people, the humblest part of the population.
Up to the present day, you will find that the friendliest people in Malaysia come from Melaka and from those whose livelihood was once linked to the sea. Go to any Eurasian home in Melaka unannounced and you might be asked to join them for a meal or a cup of tea, coffee or drink ‘ agu di lanya’ ( young coconut water).
The Eurasians evolved as a people in Melaka and spread to other parts of the Malay Peninsula, the Indonesian Islands and other parts of South East Asia not by choice but by circumstance. In the early 1960s and 70s, when the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US opened its doors to immigrants, there was a huge exodus of Eurasians from Malaysia and Singapore to these countries. This nomadic trend will continue as Eurasians try to identify their ‘ homeland’.
1950s - Present
Today, the approximately 28,000Eurasians living and breathing in Malaysia have a mission to accomplish. We have to establish our rights and privileges as responsible citizens of Malaysia, our country and homeland. To be loyal to our roots, to the King and Government of Democratic Malaysia. After 50 years of Independence and Democracy,Our Community looks forward to be identified as Malaysian- Eurasians or Serani and not anymore to come under the general term of ‘Others’.
Towards the Commemoration of the 500th. Anniversary of the Arrival of the Portuguese in Malacca and the beginnings of colonial power in Malaya, we reflect on the strengths, the culture, the language and the Heritage that the Malaysian-Eurasian Community has contributed to the growth of young Democratic Malaysia.
Most Malaysian-Eurasians are tri-lingual. All speak Bahasa Malaysia and English. Some speak ‘ Kristang’. Others speak fluently other ethnic language like Hokkien, Cantonese, Tamil or a Sabahan/ Sarawakan Tribal dialect. My focus is to concentrate on the Malacca-Portuguese Creole Language, Papiah Kristang or Bahasa Serani and make it the language that will identify the Malaysian – Eurasians.
Most Eurasians who had their beginnings in Melaka have forgotten how to speak Kristang or have simply been too embarrassed to even acknowledge it as their Mother-Tongue because of the prescribed use and prestige of both the Malay and English Languages. Most residents in the Portuguese Settlement in Melaka can and still speak an evolving ‘ Papiah Kristang’This has led to the belief among the Eurasian Community outside of Melaka and the other races, that only the residents of the Portuguese Settlement in Melaka are the descendents of the Portuguese ( Orang keturunan Portugis) and speak the ‘Portugis’ Language. The reality is that no resident speaks Standard Portuguese in the Settlement and that no one can make claim to having an ancestor or that his homeland is Portugal. The myth has to be dispelled.

Investing in the Maintenance of the Papiah Kristang Language and Culture in Malaysia among the Malaysian- Eurasians.
Alan Baxter in his book, ‘ A Grammar of Kristang’ says ‘The Malacca- Creole Language is a fascinating reflex of the rich cultural exchange which took place between speakers of Portuguese during the Portuguese period 1511-1641. Thus the Malayanisation of Portuguese in Malacca led to the creation of a new language, properly termed Malacca-Melayu Portuguese Creole. Referred to by its speakers as Kristang’
As a native-speaker of Papiah Kristang, I took up the challenge of documenting the Kristang Language since 1990. After much research and many discussions with several linguists and Eurasians on the orthography that would be simple enough for the Malaysian- Eurasians to read Kristang texts, I immediately began to register Kristang vocabulary. Then with the support of The Calouste-Gulbenkian Foundation, I wrote and published two books ‘Ungua Adanza’ in 1995 and ‘Linggu Mai’ in 2004. In 2006, I wrote a Kristang Monodrama ‘Seng Marianne’ for the Lusophonia Festival in Macau. Unfortunately Entry was late and the monodrama was not staged. This is one of my literary works that needs to be published.
In March 2007, I was fortunate to be nominated and then selected as one of Digi’s Amazing Malaysians. Digi named me the ‘ Kristang Poet of Melaka’ The award required that I initiate a project involving 60 schoolchildren and a few adult Eurasians. I produced a Musical entitled ‘Kazamintu na Praiya’ and wrote the Kristang lyrics of all the songs in the Musical, which was showcased on the 24th.November 2007 at the Portuguese Settlement in Melaka.
In early 2012, I will launch yet another of my Kristang publications, ‘The Serani Series’ It is a set of 3 works comprising ‘ Bersu Serani’, ‘Speak Serani’ and a ‘Commemorative Bahasa Serani Dictionary’
Why a ‘ Commemorative Bahasa Serani Dictionary’ ?
A Language’s Vocabulary is an organized catalogue of a given culture’s essential concepts and elements.
The Language is traditionally associated with a culture’s environment and local ecosystem, the plants and animals it uses for food, medicine and other purposes and expresses local value systems and worldviews. ( Fishman 1991 )
Languages are therefore not just a means of communication but represent the very fabric of CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS, the CARRIERS OF IDENTITY, VALUES and WORLD VIEWS.
Papiah Kristang/ Bahasa Serani hopes to be the tool that will enable Malaysian –Eurasians after 500 years to be identified as a race through their oneness in Culture and Customs. They have the edge because they speak, read and write the international language, that is English, fluently. However, points that should be considered in resuscitating Papiah Kristang is its present vitality and viability.
• Number of speakers
• Intergenerational language transmission
• Community members’ attitudes towards their own language.
• Shifts in domains of language use
• Type and quality of documentation - Translation as a tool for dialogue/ revival..................this is the method I have used so far.
• Response to new domains and media – Internet ( FACEBOOK) and Mobiles – successful
• Availability of materials for language education and literacy – not enough
Only 1. Kristang Dictionary by Scully and Alcantra ( Singapore)
2. Kristang Dictionary by Baxter and De Silva
3. Ungua Adanza
Linggu Mai
Kristang Phrasebook
Kristang Speech and Song CD
Bersu Serani
Speak Serani
Commemorative Bahasa Serani Dictionary by Joan M. Marbeck
Christmas Carols translated into Papiah Kristang
Kristang Monodrama ‘ Seng Marianne’
Kristang Musical ‘ Kazamintu na Praiya’
4. CD of Traditional Kristang songs – by Horace Sta Maria
- by Noel Felix
- by Joe Bosco Lazaroo
- by Martin Theseira and Don Beins

‘Languages are a critical marker of the vitality of cultural diversity, for they are , above and beyond, tools of communication – the prism through which individuals and communities apprehend and give meaning to their relationships and environment. From this perspective, any form of linguistic decline has to be taken as a sign of cultural impoverishment and the disappearance of any language as an irreplaceable loss for the common Heritage of mankind.’ ( Investing in Cultural Diversity)
UNESCO World Report 2000

Project Proposal
Taking the Preservation of the Kristang Language and Culture to another level will have its oppositions, presuppositions, positive and negative approaches and attitudes of some members of the community and others in the country and region. But, most importantly it will also jolt the Malaysian, Asian and International Communities to realising that ‘Saving an already Endangered Language after 500 years, is NOT an impossiblity’.
This is why I propose a Visible Entity - A Foundation for all Malaysian –Eurasians in the beating heart of Melaka. The Foundation should accomodate
• A Research and Development Centre
• A Library and Language Laboratory
• A Eurasian Art/ Heritage Museum
• Theatre/ Music/ Dance Studios - Asian/ European
• Cafetaria
Now we need the experts, the architects who will fortify the construction to last for another 500 years, the specialists, to co-ordinate the action-plans from ground to roof and the philanthropists.
We also need, more than ever before, the belief, cooperation and a united front of Eurasians in Malaysia to realize the importance and necessity of this proposal. This will be the level and space where every child, young adult and senior Eurasian will have the possibility to meet, enjoy the camaraderie which is typical of a true-blue Serani, speak in their revived, perhaps by then, already their ‘ Secret Language’, verify their identity and be proud of their customs, traditions and a UNIQUE HERITAGE which we definitely owe to the PORTUGUESE.
I also call on the women participating in this Congress to lend us your hands and speak of support and commitment in saving our closely related Language and Heritage.
As women we can impact our beliefs and realize our dreams because we know that we are the ‘ BASTIONS’ of our communities, the practitioners and the treasure –keepers of our Heritage.
Before I conclude , allow me to thank the following persons who have cooperated and assisted me in my quest of reviving and saving the Malacca- Portuguese Language and Culture.
The late Rev. Fr. Manuel Pintado - Melaka
Prof. Dr. Pierre F.G. Guisan- Brazil
Rev. Fr. Lancelot Rodrigues – Macau
Dr. Jorge Rangel – Macau
Fundacao Macau - Macau
Fundacao Oriente- Macau
Dr. Jose Blanco – Portugal
Dr. Joao Pedro Garcia – Portugal
Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian - Portugal
Dra. Maria Manuela Aguiar - Portugal
Prof. Mario Pinharanda Nunes – Kuala Lumpur
Prof. Carla Belo – Kuala Lumpur
Philomena Mary Marbeck- Kennedy – Ireland
Griffin & Theresa Hendroff – Kuala Lumpur
My children, Prof. Dr. David Cheong – ILO, Geneva
Elaine –Jean Cheong Mertel – Munich
Anne Marie Cheong – Malaysia
Martin Cheong – London, UK
And my dear friends, Sandra Shunmugam, Martin Theseira, Melba Nunis and family, Justin Ee, Cheryl Teh, Vernon Emuang, YB. Teh Kok Kiew
To all , my heartfelt appreciation.
Mutu Grandi Merseh.
Paper presented by

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