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JURNAL PENDIDIKAN TIGAENF 1997 JILID 2: BIL.

ACQUISITION OF M ALAY AFFIXES BY PUPILS OF TAM IL PRIMARY


SCHOOLS

Oleh

Krishnan a/l Ramasamy

Unit Pengajian Tamil


Maktab Perguruan Seri Kota

1.0 Introduction

This study based on an error analysis framework looked into the nature of Malay
language errors occurring in a context situation where Tamil language as the dominant
language. This study was confined to only Mala y affixes because a majority of second
language learners of Mala y language seem to have problems with Mala y affixes.

2.0 Rational

The main concern of this study is the problem of why learners of Mala y language in
Tamil primar y school fail to achieve an acceptable level of competence in the language in
spite of having studied it from the ver y first year of school. For many of the non-Malay
learners of Malay language, Mala y affixes become one of the most dificult aspect to
master. In fact, it ma y be the most serious obstacle in their effort to acquire a proficiency
in the Malay language. Performance of Tamil primary students in the Ujian Penilaian
Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination indicate a relatively very low level of Malay
language proficienc y. So, if the causes for the difficulties in acquiring proficiency in
Malay language by the Tamil school students are not identified and rectified, the
percentage of passes in Mala y language in the UPSR examinations will not show a
remarkable change.

3.0 Research Questions

In this study the investigator focussed on the ability of Tamil primary six students in
using Mala y affixes and sought to answer the following questions,

(1) Do Tamil primary six students know the different kinds of Mala y affixes?

(2) Do the y understand the various functions of these affixes?

(3) Can the y use the Malay affixes correctly in written Mala y?

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4.0 Methodology

4.1 Subjects for the study

For the purpose of this study the investigator used fifty primary students, thirty girls
and twenty boys, of Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (Tamil) Batu Caves, who were
selected randomly with the help of the Mala y language teacher, Puan R.Rajeswar y, of that
school. Having undergone the same national language programme for almost six years,
the assumption is that, everything being equal, the subjects would have learned the
different types of Malay affixes and their functions. Beside that, they would have acquired
the same level of proficiency in Mala y language.

4.2 Test Instruments

Seven different kinds of assignments were constructed to carry out this study. These
test instruments were adopted and modified from the various test instruments and
evaluation tests on grammatical aspects of Mala y language suggested by Hussain Mahmud
(1987), Khamis Maarof (1987) and Koh Boh Boon (1978). These assignments were
administered with the help of the Mala y language teacher Puan Rajeswary of the school.

5.0 Operational Definitions of Technical Terms

i) Affixation Affixation ia a morphological process whereby a root


word may be extended by one or more affixes. The
Malay affixes are classified as prefixes, suffixes,
infixes and circumfixes according to their position of
occurrence in relation to root word.

ii) Borrowed affixes - Affixes borrowed from foreign languages such


`juru...', `pro...',`wan....'

iii) Noun forming circumfixes - `pe(N)...), `ke...an', and `per..an'

iv) Verb forming circumfixes - `me(N)..kan', `be(R)..an', `di..kan',


and `me(N)..i'

v) Noun forming suffix - `..an'

vi) Verb forming suffix - `...kan'

vi) Verb forming prefixes - `me(N)...', `be(R)..', `ter..' and `di...'

viii) Noun forming prefixes - `ke...', `pe(N)..'


ix) Adjective forming prefix - `ter..'

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6.0 Analysis

6.1 Analysis of Errors according to their Functions

The errors identified in this study were categorized according to their functions and
then ordered according to their percentage of error shown in Table 1.

It was noted that the respondents made the highest percentage (63.0%) of errors in
borrowed affixes. Seven hundred and fifty five errors were counted from a total occurrence
of one thousand two hundred. Most of the respondents seem to be not familiar with the
borrowed affixes which are used in Mala y language.

Noun and verb forming circumfixes are very frequently used in Mala y language but
more than fifty five percentage of errors were counted in the usage of Mala y circumfixes.
As a matter of fact, most of the respondents were incapable of using circumfixes to form
derived morphemes.

There are only two Mala y suffixes in Mala y language , i.e. `..an' and `..kan'. Suffix
`..an' is used to form nouns and the other to form verbs. More than fifty percentage of
errors were counted for each suffix.

TABLE 1: FREQUENCY OF ERRORS IN TYPES OF WORD FORMATION

No Types of No. of Errors in each Assignment Total Total %


Affixes Occurr- No. of
ence Errors
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 Borrowed Affixes 145 - - 129 200 57 224 1200 755 63.0

2 Noun Forming 120 - 88 171 159 81 134 1200 753 62.8


Circumfixes
3 Verb Forming 149 - 186 235 - 134 136 1450 840 57.9
Circumfixes
4 Noun Forming 18 - - 17 57 32 29 300 153 51.0
Suffixes
5 Verb Forming 8 - - 39 - 15 39 200 101 50.5
Suffixes
6 Verb Forming 164 387 392 262 217 200 92 4350 1714 39.4
Prefixes
7 Noun Forming 38 347 230 - 50 5 76 1950 746 38.3
Prefixes
8 Adjective - - - - 36 9 - 150 45 30.0
Forming Prefix.
642 734 896 853 719 533 730 5107 47.3 47.3
Total

Verb forming prefixes were tested in all the assignments. A total of 1714 errors were
counted against the total number of occurrence (4350). On the other hand, noun forming
prefixes occurred 1950 times and 746 (38.3%) errors were recorded.

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Although only forty five (30%) errors were recorded against the total number of
occurrence (150) in adjective forming `ter..', the investigator assumes that the knowledge
of the respondents about its usage is shallow because most of them could use it correctly
only with well-versed morphemes.

6.2 The Frequency of Errors in Using Noun, Verb and Adjective Forming Affixes and
Borrowed Affixes

Table 2 below shows us the summary of errors made by the respondents in forming
three main derived morphemes through affixation and the number of errors made in
borrowed affixes in Mala y language. On the whole, the highest percentage of errors was
made in the usage of borrowed affixes (63%); followed by noun forming affixes (47.9%);
verb forming affixes (44.2%) and adjective forming affixes (30.0%).

TABLE 2: PERCENTAGE OF ERRORS AGAINST TOTAL OCCURRENCE

N o. Types of Affixes Total No. of %


Occurrence Errors
Borrowed Affixes 1200 755 63.0
1.
Noun Forming Affixes 3450 1652 47.9
2.
Verb Forming Affixes 6000 2655 44.2
3.
Adjective Forming 150 45 30.0
4. Affixes
Total 10800 5107 47.3

This study clearly indicates that a majority of the respondents had not mastered most of
the Mala y affixes and their functions. Since their knowledge of the Malay affixes is very
shallow, most of them could not form derived morphemes using the correct affixes at
correct places.

7.0 Findings and Discussion

1. From the first assignment given to the respondents it was calculated that, ninety
eight percent of the respondents did not know all the Malay affixes stipulated in
the Mala y language syallbus for Tamil primar y schools of Mala ysia.

2. Majority of the respondents find Mala y circumfixes more intricating to use


compared to the prefixes and suffixes.

3. Most of the respondents did not know the borrowed affixes used in Mala y
language.

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4. Most of the respondents could not use the allomorphs of `me(N)..' and `pe(N)..'
correctly with appropriate initial phonemes of the Malay root morphemes.

5. Most of the respondents were unable to form transitive, intransitive and passive
verbs; derived nouns and adjectives in the superlative form.

6. From the questionnaire given to the respondents, it was apprehended that poor
reading habits among the Tamil primar y students lead to limited vocabulary in
Mala y language. As such, most of them did not know the meaning of root words
which lead them to incorrect usage of affixes.

By and large , this analysis indicates to a certain extent the incompetence of Tamil
primary students in using the Mala y affixes. As a matter of fact, the mother-tongue, Tamil
language, of the respondents did not appear to significantly affect their use of Malay
affixes. In fact most of their errors displa yed significantly the influence of intra-lingual
factors. To a large extent, the students' use of affixes showed pattern which could be
explained in terms of target language (ML). For example, there was considerable influence
of intra-lingual factors such as :-

i) ignorance of rule restrictions


ii) overgenaralisation
iii) unable to distinguish between affixes and root words
iv) unable to distinguish the different functions of the affixes
v) lack of comprehension due to poor vocabulary

This indicates that the respondents need more reinforcement and guidance in using Malay
affixes correctly and effectively.

8.0 Implications and Suggestions

1. The teachers who are being trained to teach Mala y language (ML) in vernacular
schools should be trained under a special programme that involves an approach,
for teaching Mala y language along the line of TESL programme in English. In
other words, the programme of teaching ML as a Second language, TMSL.

2. Should recruit teachers who have basic knowledge of Tamil to teach Mala y
language in Tamil primary schools.

3. Time allocation for Malay language should be increased in Tamil schools.

4. Teachers can construct remedial drills in the usage of Mala y affixes based on
three principles - repetition, substitution and transformation.

5. The Mala y language teachers can set aside lesson hours weekly or fortnightly for
the specific purpose of giving learners the opportunity to listen to Mala y language
as used in authentic contexts of interest to primary students.

6. In order to inculcate reading habit among the students, the usage of Malay
supplementar y readers should be encouraged.

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9.0 Summary

The results of this study indicate that most of the Tamil students are ignorant of most of
the Mala y affixes which hinder their proficienc y in Malay language. From this study it is
very clear that serious attention be given to errors in the use of Mala y affixes. Although
the effectiveness in teaching any subject or topic depends on many factors, including
students' intelligence and environmental conditions, it cannot be denied that the teaching
ability of the teacher is most important. Second language teachers should be very
innovative and should attempt to use a wide variety of pattern drills and other practice
exercises to motivate the students and maximize the proficient usage of affixes.

Bibiliography

Abdullah Hassan, (1980). Linguistic Am Untuk Guru Bahasa Mala ysia. K.L.:Fajar Bakti.

Azman Wan Chik, (1987). Edited:Isu-Isu Dalam Pengukuran Dan Penilaian Bahasa
Malysia. Kuala Lumpur: DBP.

Koh Boh Boon.(1989). Analisis Kadar Penguasaan Bakal Guru Bahasa Mala ysia dalam
Penggunan Kata Kerja, Kata Sifat/ Adverba dan Kata Nama, in Perspektif-Perspektif
dalam Pengajaran Bahasa Malaysia'. Kuala Lumpur: DBP. 315-332

Raminah Sabran.(1983). `Satu Analisis Kesilapan Nahu Penutur Jati Bahasa Mela yu Di
Kalangan Guru Pelatih,' M.Ed. Thesis, Faculty of Education, University of Mala ya.