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The language police in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia may levy fines on people who mangle the national language on signs and posters, and deploy monitors to ensure that speakers at official functions do not improperly mix Malay with English.

Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Rais Yatim said fines of up to 1,000 ringgit (about Rs. 12,200) can be imposed for billboards and posters that display mutated forms of Malay. The move aims to ensure that "the national language was not sidelined in any way." Fines would be imposed after an initial warning.

Most Malaysians speak the national language, Malay, also known as Bahasa Malaysia, but English is widely spoken. A mishmash of both languages — known as "Manglish" — also is commonly used.

While the use of English remains permitted, the Government wants to root out English words that have been adopted in the national language and replace them with suitable Malay substitutes. Mr. Rais said a national language unit will be set up to try to reduce the English-Malay mix. — AP

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