When I first started writing, it came naturally to me to write in whatever one considered Standard English was. It just seemed like the “right” way of writing. Going to school where English was a second language, there was an insistence on correcting mistakes. When I started teaching English, this was still standard operating procedure. Students came to me to be corrected. Often, performance reviews would have students saying that the teacher did not correct their mistakes enough. In response, I used to say that it doesn’t come naturally to me to correct people. I’m sure some people will agree with me. On another level though, having studied Linguistics, I am attracted to the idea that there really is no “right” way to use a language. What is correct is basically what is expected of those around you and as a teacher, I never really saw fit to dictate what the expectations of those surrounding students outside the classroom are. My point was always to be ready to come across a whole wide range of Englishes in the real world, where there were no textbooks and dictionaries.
So it is with satisfaction to share a new piece of mine published on Going Down Swinging titled ‘A Ball and a Half.’ It describes growing up in suburban Malaysia. As a piece, I couldn’t have done it without resorting to Malaysian English, Cantonese romanisation, and ‘standard’ English. I’m immensely grateful that this type of work found space somewhere and even more so for it being on GDS, an Australian publication I deeply respect.