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  • Cited by 4
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Book description

Taming Babel sheds new light on the role of language in the making of modern postcolonial Asian nations. Focusing on one of the most linguistically diverse territories in the British Empire, Rachel Leow explores the profound anxieties generated by a century of struggles to govern the polyglot subjects of British Malaya and postcolonial Malaysia. The book ranges across a series of key moments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in which British and Asian actors wrought quiet battles in the realm of language: in textbooks and language classrooms; in dictionaries, grammars and orthographies; in propaganda and psychological warfare; and in the very planning of language itself. Every attempt to tame Chinese and Malay languages resulted in failures of translation, competence, and governance, exposing both the deep fragility of a monoglot state in polyglot milieux, and the essential untameable nature of languages in motion.

Reviews

'Rachel Leow has written a timely book with an elegance necessary for the tangled cords that characterise the language policies in colonial and postcolonial Malaysia.'

Alicia Izharuddin Source: New Books Asia (www.newbooks.asia)

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Contents

BL

British Library

BSOAS

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

BTLV

Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde

CAB

Cabinet records, UK National Archives

CO

Colonial Office

CSSH

Comparative Studies in Society and History

CUP

Cambridge University Press

Des.

Despatch

DBP

Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka

FCO

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

GPO

Government Printing Office

HUP

Harvard University Press

HMSO

Her Majesty’s Stationery Office

IIAS

International Institute for Asian Studies

ISEAS

Institute for Southeast Asian Studies

JAS

Journal of Asian Studies

JICH

Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History

JMBRAS

Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society

JSBRAS

Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society

JSEAH

Journal of Southeast Asian History

JSEAS

Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

MAS

Modern Asian Studies

MCP

Malay Concordance Project

NUS

National University of Singapore

OHA

Oral History Archives

OUP

Oxford University Press

PIJ

Political Intelligence Journal

PRO

Public Relations Office (Singapore)

RCMS

Royal Commonwealth Society Library

RHL

Rhodes House Library

SCA

Secretariat for Chinese Affairs

SEAP

Southeast Asia Program (Cornell)

SIRD

Strategic Information and Research Development Center

SNA

Singapore National Archives

ST

Straits Times

TNA

The National Archives (UK)

UBC

University of British Columbia

UCP

University of California Press

UH

University of Hawai’i

UKM

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

UL

University Library (Cambridge University)

UM

University of Malaya/Malaysia

UNSW

University of New South Wales

WO

War Office

Or Mic 12188

Jennie Barlow Collection

  • Daily and Weekly Vernacular Press Summaries (1950–1958)

  • Straits Settlements Government Gazette (1920–1930)

Mss. Ind. Ocn. s. 162

Papers of Frank Kershaw Wilson, 1915–1916

Mss. Ind. Ocn. s. 352

Papers of Sir Cecil Clementi, 1899–1912

Mss. Brit. Emp. s. 480

Papers of Professor R. W. Heussler, 1950–1984

PP MS 33

Tom Pearson Cromwell papers (1926–1946)

MC

Ministry of Culture Files (1961–1965)

PRO

Public Relations Office Files (1951–1954)

SCA

Secretariat of Chinese Affairs, Singapore (1946–1954)

OHA 000064

Sng Choon Yee, interviewed by Lim How Seng, Singapore, 5 March 1981.

OHA 000513

Jenny Gan, interview by Low Lay Leng, Singapore, 11 December 1984.

Government Offices: Distribution of Work (1949–1953), Microfilm NL9601, NL20984

‘Memoranda of Books: A catalogue of books printed in the Straits Settlements under the Ordinance no. 15 of 1886.’ Extracted from the Straits Settlements Government Gazette in 2 vols., Vol. 1 (1887–1941) and Vol. 2 (1946–1951). Microfilm NL5256.

Straits Settlements Establishments (1920–1938). Microfilms NL5131 (1920–1923), NL5132 (1923, 1928–1931), NL5133 (1934–1936, 1938).

CAB 129

Cabinet, Memoranda, 1951

CO 273

Straits Settlements, Original Correspondence, 1879–1940

CO 537

Colonial Office and Predecessors: Confidential General and Confidential Original Correspondence, 1948–1951

CO 717

Federated Malay States, Original Correspondence, 1950–1951

CO 875

Public Relations Department, Registered Files, 1949–1951

CO 1022

South East Asia Department, Original Correspondence, 1950–1953

FO 1091

Commissioner General for the United Kingdom in South East Asia, and United Kingdom Commissioner for Singapore and South East Asia, Registered Files, 1957–1959

WO 291

Military Operational Research Unit, Reports and Papers, 1950–1953

Royal Commonwealth Society Library (RCMS)

RCMS 103

Archives of the British Association of Malaysia and Singapore

  • Assault News 突擊報 (1953)

  • Dewan Bahasa (1957–1966)

  • Eastern Horizon (1960–1967)

  • Economic Melayu (1947–1948)

  • Freedom News 自由報 (1949–1957)

  • Kencana (1948–1950)

  • Life Magazine (1942)

  • Majallah Guru (1924–1957)

  • Malayan Monitor (1948–1949)

  • Malayan Undergrad (1950–1966)

  • Nanyang Siang Pau

  • Singapore Free Press

  • Straits Times

  • Warta Ahad (1934–1941)

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