Gagap or stutter. Some people are born with it. Sometimes it comes with anxiety (i.e. when talking to your boss or people you aren’t familiar with). Sometimes we unconsciously do it when your brain thinks in a certain way but your mouth utter your thoughts in a different manner. Lately I’ve fallen into the last category. How does it happen? Allow me to explain.
I organize my thoughts in English. Always. At home, at work, while driving, shopping, eating. Always. Sorry, bukan nak berlagak bagitau semorang yang kita ni pandai cakap orang putih, but it’s just the way I live my life and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Teringat dulu pernah borak2 with my cousin Farah about how people suddenly become gagap with no good reason. Now I know why.
However, when I do calculations, I count in Malay. Always. I can do it in English, but it takes a bit longer for my brain to process. I’ve tried counting in Spanish, it takes even longer. Macam budak tadika kira 1+2=3.
My team of staffs are all Malay (except for several university students who interns with us). Though they basically understand English, it’s just natural to give instructions in Malay, because it’s a common understanding that when Malays talk to Malays they just have to speak Malay (though I’m not really agreeable to this concept). Furthermore, given their level of education and English fluency, it’s more effective to communicate to them in Malay.
Since I organize my thoughts in English, giving instructions to my team in Malay is quite a hassle. First I have to translate my thoughts to Malay. Then I have to make sure what I’m going say make sense. Then I need structure a coherent and polite (yes, I have to be polite, Malays are famous for “terasa hati” for the most outrageous reasons) sentence to utter. By the time my brain finishes processing all that, several microseconds already passed. As a result, I stutter.
Macam mana nak elak dari gagap? Funny thing is, it only happens during formal conversations. Bila borak kosong time makan2 tak pulak gagap. Maybe it’s due to lack of practice. Masa kat EY dulu memang jarang sangat2 buat formal conversations in Malay. There’s no reason to even learn. Fortunately when I move here the executives use English to communicate, hence I don’t really have a problem. Cuma kadang2 I feel inept when I can’t speak coherently to my staff in Malay. Ada pros and cons jugak, kalau dok suka sangat cakap Melayu sekali tu English jadik berkarat, tak ke haru. Better the other way round kan?
Oh well, gagap pun gagap laa. As long as we can understand each other, fine by me.