Japanese Speech Contest 2020/21 (日本語スピーチコンテスト 2020/21) — The translation

As scheduled, here is my translation of what I wrote, under the guidance of my Japanese language tutor, for the script used in the Japanese Speech Contest submission entry! I included the original Japanese text at the top, followed by the English translation, to make referrals to the original script a bit easier.


Language Revitalisation in Singapore — The Kristang Language


Singapore is a multiracial nation. While the official languages are English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil, various dialects are also widely spoken as well. Besides these languages and dialects, did you know that there is an endangered language spoken in Singapore? Although this language is threatened with extinction, there are some signs of revitalisation, and this revitalisation process is what I would like to share with everyone today. So, what kind of language is Kristang?


Kristang is a creole language spoken in Malaysia and Singapore, and is closely related to the Portuguese language. At first, Portuguese settlers and the indigenous Malays used widely different languages, which formed barriers in mutual intelligibility and communication. Thus, a special language naturally developed over time. While Kristang is similar to Portuguese, over time, loan words from Dutch, Mandarin Chinese and various dialects entered the Kristang lexicon.


For example, “jellyfish” is “ampeh” in Kristang. This is a loan word from the Malay word “ampai-ampai”.


“Fish” is “pesi” in Kristang. This is also a loan word, from the Portuguese “peixe”.


Today, the lexicon of Kristang is a mixture of words from various languages. But how did it become what it is today? Let’s explore the history, and the origins of Kristang.


Firstly, in 1511CE, the Portuguese conquered the city of Malacca, in Malaysia, becoming a starting point for what became the Portuguese maritime empire. During this period, the Portuguese settlers and colonists intermarried with the residents of Malacca. This is the origins of the Kristang people, as well as the Kristang language.


130 years later. the Dutch colonised Malacca. In 1826CE, the British colonised Penang, Singapore, as well as the Malayan Peninsula, bringing these territories into the British empire. However, as Singapore’s ports developed and modernised, Malacca’s ports fell out of importance and into disuse. This was one of the factors of emigration of some Kristang from Malacca to Singapore. However, as English was the preferred language to use in Singapore, the Kristang language started to decline. Until recently, the Kristang language is largely forgotten about in Singapore. Today, Kristang youth are unable to speak their mother tongue. In fact, there are fewer than 200 native speakers of Kristang living in Singapore. Moreover, there is no literature, songs or radio broadcasts in the Kristang language.

初めにKevin Martens Wongさんが立ち上がりました。四年前にシンガポールで「クリスタン語を覚醒しよう」(Kodrah Kristang)という復興キャンペーンを始めました。このキャンペーンには目的が五つあります。

At first, this caught the attention of Mr. Kevin Martens Wong. Therefore, he started a revitalisation campaign in Singapore, called “Kodrah Kristang” (Awaken Kristang). This campaign has five objectives [not shown, but it concerns spreading the awareness, and increasing learning opportunities for Kristang].


Learning about his cultural heritage, Kevin grew concerned, and determined to revitalise the Kristang language. While this process is a rather long -term one, in these four years, not only were an online dictionary, and vocabulary and listening resources developed, there are also activities held in libraries and community centers, where native speakers of Kristang teach the language to learners. While these activities were in place, there were some problems, such as the lack of translations of commonly used scientific and technical terms or jargon in the Kristang language. Many such words do not exist in Kristang.


For example, while “digestion” is “digestão” in Portuguese, this term lacks a proper translation in the Kristang language.


Therefore, a new community was created, where new Kristang words were invented. Every week, the team chooses some words which are commonly used [but lacks a Kristang translation], and proposes possible Kristang translations. This was followed by shortlisted candidate words, and taking a vote. This way, Kristang could catch up with the 21st century lingo.


In fact, I have participated in activities conducted by this community, Through these experiences, I gradually became increasingly interested in the Kristang language. Knowing about the history of the language and the culture, I understood Kevin’s motivation underlying the revitalisation campaign, which aims to increase the number of speakers for this endangered language.

いま、Kodrah Kristangの活動はシンガポールの新聞で話題になっていますが、この復興過程が成功したと言うには早過ぎます。この復興活動の効果(こうか)は、まだはっきりわからないので、過ぎていく時間だけがいつか教えてくれます。この復興キャンペーンを成功させるために、人々にクリスタン語の存在を知らせて、興味を持ってもらいたいと思います。

Today, while Kodrah Kristang’s activities have become talking points covered in Singapore’s news, it is too early to assess the success of the revitalisation campaign. Because the results of this revitalisation campaign are still unclear, only time will tell if this would succeed. For this revitalisation campaign to be successful, various people have to be made aware of Kristang’s existence, and be interested to learn the language.

世界では消滅の危機に瀕している言語がたくさんあります。いま、英語などの旧植民地(きゅうしょくみんち)の言語が力を持っているので、少数派(しょうすうは)の言語は学校教育でほとんど教えられませんし、家庭でも使われません。少数民族の固有(こゆう)言語(げんご)世界(せかい)各地(かくち)で消滅の危機にさらされています。これらの言語にはそれぞれの復興活動がありますが、他の消滅危機言語はこのような認識があまりありません。これらの言語は日常話者が完全(かんぜん)に存在しなくなったら、それぞれの固有文化をなくすことになるので、ほんとうに残念だと思います。ですから、日の当たらない言語の研究、復興を進めることを望みます。 みなさん、想像してみてください。自分の言語、自分の文化が消滅の危機に瀕したら、どうすればいいのでしょうか。

There are many endangered languages in the world. Today, as English and other former colonial languages are still widely used and preferred, and that minority languages are not really taught in education systems, these languages would not be used at home. This exposes the various languages of minority groups around the world to the danger of extinction. Although some of these languages have various ongoing revitalisation programmes, other languages may not really have as much recognition to warrant revitalisation efforts. Should these language completely lose all of its native speakers, becoming extinct, we would lose these a part of these various cultures, and this prospect is a really disappointing one. Therefore, I do wish for the continued research, and advancement of revitalisation efforts on these languages. I would like you to imagine this. If your language, and your culture are threatened with extinction, what would you do?


Thank you for reading this post (more rather, translation).

I hope I have written a rather comprehensible translation for this, as some expressions were quite difficult for me to convey in English. I will accept future edits to the translation, so feel free to drop a comment, or contact me!

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