Monday, August 31, 2009

What is in a Chinese name?

What is in a Chinese name

When a Chinese father gives a name to his son or daughter, he will think of its meaning. For girls the popular names start with Hui (smart or intelligent), Mei (beautiful), Li (beautiful), Yan (beautiful), Xiao (small) and Ming (clever). Each is followed by Zhu (pearl), Li (beautiful) and Rong (face) Hence names such as Hui Li (intelligent and beautiful, Mei Li (beautiful), Yan Zhu (beautiful pearl), Ming Li (clever and beautiful) and Xiao Hui (small but clever) will be given to girls when they are born.

As for boys, the popular names will start with Jiang (strong), Cong (clever), Kai (victorious), Guo (country), Zhi (ambition) and Zhong (loyal). Each is usually followed by Ming (person), Fu (happiness), Xiang (auspicious), and Jian (healthy). Consequently, the newborn males will be given names such as Jiang Fu (Strong and Enjoying happiness), Cong Ming (clever person), Kai Xiang (victorious and auspicious), Guo Jian (the country's healthy person) and Zhong Ming (Loyal subject of a country).

Hence you see, there is a certain meaning attachment to each Chinese name.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ancestral worship

The Chinese have practised ancestral worship since ancient time. It is a way of showing respect to their late parents or grandparents.

Food offered for praying include rice, vegetables, meat and tea and sometimes wine. If the Chinese are Buddhists they can prepare vegetarian food for this purpose.

Tomorrow will be the 43th anniversary of my father's death and my family and I will do ancestral worship then.

It is a good practice because we are trained to think of the good deed our forefathers have done for us. In olden China, if a son was rewarded and honoured, the honour also went to the ancestors. There were cases where the title awarded to the son was given posthumously to his father too.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Acupuncture works

Yesterday I went to my physiotherapist for rehabilitation of my 'trigger finger'. This time, she inserted three needles at three different acupuncture points to reduce swelling on my forefinger. I experienced numbing sensation as the needles were being pushed into the skin. They remained there for about 20 minutes after which they were removed. When she examined my swollen finger, it had reduced considerably.

Acupuncture did wonders to my finger and now I could flex a little bit. According to her, it would take quite some time for the finger to be normal again because the tendon was swollen too. I expect to be undergoing acupuncture treatment the next time I set foot at her clinic again.

Acupuncture works.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't take fingers for granted

We take our fingers for granted. This should not be so as in my case. I never realised that our forefinger is so useful as it helps us do many things, writing included. Besides writing, I find it difficult to hold my chopsticks when I replace the forefinger with my middle finger in holding them. In the end I resort to using fork and spoon for the time being when I partake of noodles.

My trigger finger improved a little as the swollen finger had shrunk to some degrees and I could flex my forefinger a little. I still need to go for physiotherapy sessions. I really hope to get over all these and I can use my forefinger again.

The disability to use one finger has caused so much trouble to me. I now really admire those without hands and yet can manage to go about doing things. Hence we should thank God for endowing us with perfect limbs to be part of us.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Learning to write with left hand

The condition of the 'trigger finger' on my right hand forefinger has not improved. Hence I have to use the middle finger as if it is the forefinger to do most of the things.

As it is too painful to write with my right hand with the above condition, I resorted to using my left hand when I wrote on the white board during lessons this evening. I marvelled at my own ability to write with my left hand. Though I had difficulty in forming words, I managed to write what I wanted and needed for explanation and extra exercises on the board.

From this experience, I find that being ambidextrous is an advantage. If I am able to write with both hands, I can accomplish what I did this evening easily.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Examples are given in plural form

Plural nouns are used when we give examples or mention things in general.

These are the examples to the statement I have made above.

1 Housewives like to buy things such as brushes, brooms, knives, forks and spoons at the shop because these are sold at reasonable prices.
[In this sentence, the examples are given in bold prints.]

2 We do not like apples because they are acidic. [Apples are used to refer to things in general.]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The usage of 'a lot of'

In English, we can use 'a lot of' in front of countable or uncountable nouns. However, if countable nouns are involved, the subject is considered plural and should take a plural verb. On the other hand, if uncountable nouns go with 'a lot of', then the subject which is then singular should pair with a singular noun.

To make this clear to readers, let us look at the following sentences.
1 A lot of people were there to watch the magic show performed by a medicine seller.
[In this sentence, 'a lot of' is followed by people which is countable. Hence a plural verb, were (a verb-to-be to be exact)is used.]

2 A lot of rubbish was strewn all over the place.
[Here, 'a lot of' takes an uncountable noun and as a result, a singular verb 'was' is used.]

Monday, August 24, 2009

With effect from July 2009

I went to a physiotherapy centre today to have my 'trigger finger' (inability to flex my forefinger) treated this morning. As I did not have an appointment, I had to wait for my turn. While waiting I noticed two notices on the wall. Both contain grammatical errors.

The first one is:

Please be inform that our new mobile phone number is 017-xxxxxxx.

In this sentence, 'inform' should be 'informed' (past participle)

The second notice reads:

Changing of operating hours

effectively from July 2009

Mon & Wed - 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Tue & Thur - 11.30 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.

'Changing of operating hours' should have been 'Change in treatment hours' to be correct.

As for effectively from July 2009, it should be reworded as 'With effect from July 2009'.

So much for today's boob watch.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Some dirty websites

I read from a blog linked to mine that you should not visit some sites which are considered dirty. What is meant is that if you visit these sites, your computer will be infected with viruses. Sharing this information is important so that you will avoid accessing those uncalled for sites for your computer's safety. The following are some of the sample websites you should avoid accessing:

Some sample websites in the list are:

I dare not even venture to visit the above after getting this information from one fellow blogger.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

'Jiak' and the Hokkien

Food is very important to the Hokkien so much so that they will ask “Lu Jiak Par Bui?” (Have you eaten?) whenever they meet one another. The reply is invariably “Jiak liau, lu ni?” (I have eaten. How about you?”

To earn a living is ‘t’an jiak’ (earn to eat) in the lingua of the Hokkien. Again food is involved.

To work for others for pay is ‘jiak t’au lor’ to the Hokkien. Here again “jiak” (eat) is linked to ‘t’au lor’ (job)

When you ask the Hokkien, “Lu aei seng lee jou liau ang chuai?” (How is your business?), the businessman will reply “t’an jiak, t’an jiak, kneah.” (Just enough for eating (food) only). See, eating or food is again associated with business.

The saying ‘jiak ka lau, oh ka lau’ which literally means ‘eat until old, learn until old’ (life-long learning) is what the Hokkiens used to say when old people are still willing to learn new things. The word ‘jiak’ or ‘eat’ is mentioned.

So much for ‘jiak’ and the Hokkien.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Zhong Yuan Jie

Yesterday was the first day of Zhong Yuan Jie or Month of the Hungry Ghosts. In Malaysia, you will have a chance to watch Chinese opera shows in the open space during this month. For the duration of the 7th moon of the Lunar Calendar which commenced yesterday, these shows will be staged from place to place and they are financed by donation from people in the areas concerned.

It is believed that hungry ghosts are let loose during this month to roam places. Hence, offering of food by the Chinese when praying to the ghosts will be held in sheds specially erected for this purpose. In individual houses, offering of food to the ghosts is done on the first, fifteenth and thirtieth of the month

During this month, children are advised not to go out at night for fear of being accosted by ghosts.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gargling with salt water

As influenza A(H1N1) is spreading to 176 countries in the world, people are scared of the infectious disease. I have received many e-emails telling me how to prevent getting sore-throat, a sign of infection. One of the methods will be using warm salt solution for gargling to kill and wash down the virus to the stomach where this virus cannot survive.

I have been using salt water whenever I have sore-throat and it works most of the time. Sometimes the sore gets more serious first and it goes off the next day even though I gargle again because I know it is going to work.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Examples of oral and written Malay words

In spoken Malay, we often use 'sebab' to mean 'kerana'. However, in written Malay, 'sebab' is to be used as 'reason' and 'kerana' as because.

The following sentences using both words as examples will make this clear:
a) Terdapat beberapa sebab pergaduhan ini berlaku. [There are several reasons for the quarrel.)

b) Lina tidak pergi ke sekolah kerana demam. [ Lina did not go to school because she was down with fever.]

We use 'cuma' in spoken Malay but 'hanya' in written one. Look at the following sentences:
a) "Saya cuma ada seringgit," kata Ali kepada saya.["I have one ringgit only," said Ali to me.
b) Hanya mereka yang menang akan diberi hadiah. [Only those who win will be given prizes.]

Another pair in this group is 'kalau' and 'jika'. The former is used in spoken Malay while the latter in written one. The sentences below show the proper usage.

a) "Kalau saya ada wang yang banyak, saya akan membeli kereta mewah," kata Ahmad kepada Muthu. [If I have a lot of money, I will buy a luxurious car," said Ahmad to Muthu.
b) Jika kemarau ini berlarutan, catuan air terpaksa dikenakan oleh kerajaan. [If this drought continues, water rationing will be imposed by the Government.]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Don't cut too deep

The first time I was admitted to hospital was for haemorrhoid-dectomy or operation to remove the haemorrhoids. It was quite a frightening experience for me because one of the doctors who did the operation was a houseman. Had he been negligent, I would have suffered more bleeding. I could hear the senior surgeon say, "Be careful. Don't cut too deep." At that moment I was fully conscious because I was under local anaesthetic. I was really worried then.

For this operation, I had to stay in hospital for 13 days and the nurse came to wash my wounds daily. Through my observation, I found that most nurses were very dedicated and did a good job. Not once did I hear any nurse raise her voice when addressing any patient.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Time when we do make mistakes

Some people simply cannot tolerate anyone's faults, however small they are. These perfectionists, so to speak, do not realise or purposely unwilling to learn that all human beings are not infallible. From time to time, we may make mistakes unintentionally.

As long as the person who has made some mistakes in his job admits that he has made them in a certain matter and strives to rectify them, his boss should excuse him and not reprimand him as if he had done something so serious that he had to be dealt with severely. Of course, a person should not be making mistakes repeatedly, or else he can be termed as a inefficient worker.

Sometimes, fearing mistakes tend to make one make the mistake one is afraid of committing. I still remembered how I was scared of knocking into a tree when I was learning how to cycle that I really crashed into one.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The colour 'black' and the Chinese

When I was still schooling, I dreaded going to school after the end-of-year holidays. The first day of any school term is called the 'black Monday'. It just shows that it is an unpleasant day because we have to face the boredom of schooling again.

To the Chinese, black is considered unlucky. If a crow were to perch on one's roof, it is considered a bad omen because death is imminent or something unlucky is going to befall the household.

The Chinese also wear black clothing during mourning period to express sadness or grief experienced over the demise of a loved one.

To the Chinese, wearing black clothing is discouraged too if it is not for mourning purposes. It is believed that ghosts and spirits like to get attached to the black attire of the person and go home with him or her. How frightening it will be if this happens. Do you dare to wear black dress after reading this post?

Hokkien people term weddings and birtdays as 'pek su' or 'white matters' and 'things to do with death or funeral' as 'or su' or 'black matters'. Hence the colour black carries negative meaning and relates to unlucky things in general.

In English, a person who brings disgrace to his family is called 'the black sheep of his family.' If one has violated so many rules of a society or financial institution, the person's name will be blacklisted which means he will not be allowed to rejoin the society or borrow from a bank and so on because he is bad.

To put words on a piece of paper is to write it down in black and white because the ink is usually black and the paper white.

So much for rattling on the colour 'black'.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How to use 'menyewa' and 'menyewakan' correctly

Students of Malay often get confused when it comes to the usage of 'menyewa' and 'menyewakan' in sentences. They are not certain about their usage and use them as if they are the same.

Actually, there is a difference between their meanings. The verb 'menyewa' means 'to rent from' while 'menyewakan' carries the meaning of 'to rent (a house) to'. Look at the following sentences to see how how they are in sentences.

a) Saya menyewa sebuah rumah semasa bekerja di negeri Pahang.
[I rented a house when I was working in the state of Pahang.]

b) Saya menyewakan rumah saya kepada pelajar-pelajar itu.
[I rented my house to the students.]

Friday, August 14, 2009

How to use the word 'present' correctly

In English, a word can belong to various parts of speech. In today's post, I am going to deal with the word 'present'. This word can exist as a noun, an adjecitve or a verb.

Let us look at how to use it as a noun. You can construct a sentence such as the following:
I gave a present to John on his birthday. [present here means gift]

As an adjective, you can use 'present' after verbs-to-be or in front of a noun. The two sentences below show how the word is used as an adjective.

a) Joshua was not present yesterday because he was down with fever. [present here means be in a certain place such as a school]
b) Mr Smith is the present Chairman of the committee. [present here means current or existing]

You can use 'present' as a verb as follows:
I am here to present a prize to the best student of the school. [present here means give away]

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Biological clock wakes me up

Does it occur to you how you manage to wake up in time for work or going to school every day? You may answer, “The alarm clock wakes me up.”

Have you realized that before the alarm clock rings you are already awake just before the clock rings. Actually the clock in your body does the work of waking you up.

If you habitually wake up at six, you will automatically get up at the above time without fail. This biological clock of ours is really marvellous.

I have done an experiment to set my biological clock by will. I just told myself that I had to wake up at five when I am normally awake at six. Yet I did wake up at five on the day I willed it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The difference between 'kita' and 'kami'

In Malay, there is a difference between 'kita' and 'kami' although the English equivalent is 'we' for both words.

I usually ask my students to remember the last letter in 'kita', that is 'a' as 'all'. Hence they should know that 'kita' means 'all of us', including the person who listen to us. For example, the sentence 'Kita berada di dalam bilik ini." means 'We (=All of us) are in this room."

As for 'kami', I encourage my students to link it to 'The King and I' with the letters 'k', 'a' and 'i' representing 'king', 'and' and 'I' respectively. 'Kami' means 'My friend (The King) and I', not including the listener. A sentence to illustrate this word is as follows:
"Kami berkelah di Pantai Merdeka kelmarin." [We (My friend and I) had a picnic at Merdeka Beach yesterday."

I hope you can now tell the two words apart after reading the above explanation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An educational tour

When I was in Cyberjaya to attend my son’s convocation, I had a chance to drop by Taman Warisan Pertanian or Heritage Park of Agriculture. It was really an educational tour. For one thing we got to go round an orchard where all the fruit trees in Malaysia are grown in one place. For another, we had the chance to witness how rubber is produced from tapping to smoking.

Mr Zulkifli, the driver of the buggy took us around the orchard with his electric jeep. When we set foot on the demo site, Mr Saravanan took over the duty of showing us how rubber was tapped. According to him, a tree can be tapped for 25 years. A rubber tapper will tap the left side of the stem for five years, then he will do the tapping on the right side. For the next five years the front side will be tapped, then he will do the tapping on the reverse side. Finally, the last five years will be spent tapping the top part of the stem.

When the tapping knife cut into the bark in a slanting position, latex will flow down into a cup. After two hours, the latex will be collected. Then it will be mixed with water and a few drops of formic acid will be added to make it coagulate. The coagulated slab of rubber will be pressed by hand until it becomes a thin sheet. Then this sheet of rubber will be pressed using two types of rollers. After that, the rubber sheet will be smoked for 20 hours in the smoke-house.

After smoking, the rubber sheet will turn brown. This sheet of rubber will be sold for RM6 per kilogram at the current price. According to Mr Saravaran, it used to fetch a price of RM12 per kilogram.

Although I have been to a rubber estate, this was the first time I had a chance to see all the processes done at one shot at the demo centre at the park.

The model rubber estate

See how the latex flow into a cup

The coagulated rubber sheet will go through this roller first

Then it will be pressed using this roller

The pressed rubber sheet will be put into this smoke-house for drying

The rubber sheets turn brown after being smoked for 20 hours

Monday, August 10, 2009

A rare occasion when buddies met

How do you feel when you have the chance to meet your old buddy after a lapse of so many years.?

Well, I had a chance to meet my buddy when I was in Kuala Lumpur to attend my son’s convocation.

I felt elated when I visited Yong Cheng Suan, my buddy in the house he bought for the use of his children two of whom are still studying in Universiti Tenaga. I was able to meet all his offspring who share the same house in Sri Kembangan. Coincidentally, my whole family was with me too. It was really a rare chance for us to meet with all our family members present.

We talked of old times for a while and Yong brought us to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. The exchange of news resumed at the lunch table. Our children also got acquainted to one another while partaking of sumptuous food at the eatery.

I really admire Yong who grows his own vegetables on the land beside his house in Raub, Pahang. On the day I was at his Sri Kembangan house, he let us taste the ‘dragon fruit’ and papayas that he harvested from his own farm. They were very delicious and pesticide-free.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Have GPS will travel

You may be wondering why I did not blog for three days. Well I went to Kuala Lumpur to attend my son's convocation. He had to be at the Multimedia University at Cybejaya on the 7th to collect his robe and attend a briefing on the procedure on Convocation Day which would be held on the 9th.

My eldest son drove me, my wife and my son there. As we had no idea how to get to the place, my son bought a GPS device, the Garmin nagivator to help him reach all the destinations we intended to reach. It was the first time he used it and yet it proved very useful as it guided us to get to where we wanted to go without fail. I really marvelled at the accuracy of the tracking system.

You just need to key in the name of the road or the name of the hotel or landmark and the device will search for it to see whether it is in the map. If so, we just have to click it and the satellite-based tracking device will start to give instruction such as 'Drive 250 metres and exit left. Turn left. Take the first turning of the roundabout, etc."

Thanks to the GPS we have acquired we accompolished what we set out to do satisfactorily.

It is a case of 'Have GPS will travel'

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How do you get rid of the resin on the skin

Whenever we eat jack fruit, the chances of having the resin getting on our hands are great. However hard you wash it with soap, the resin simply refuses to go away.

Here is a way to get rid of the resin.

Put a few drops of cooking oil on a piece of cloth. Then gently rub the oil stained cloth over the resin. Soon you will be able to get rid of all the resin on your skin.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to practise Buddhism without people knowing it

As I have mentioned in my earlier post, besides meditaion one can chant the name of a buddha such as Amitabha Buddha to attain peace of mind leading to nothingness. There are two ways of chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha. You can chant aloud clearly and listen to the name clearly. You can chant quietly in your mind, too. This is called silent chanting.

You can practise silent chanting without anybody knowing it. There are many occasions when you can practise Buddhism this way. For example, while waiting for the bus, you can do it. You can also chant the name of Amitabha Buddha quietly while doing your work when you need not interact with other people. I am sure you can think of other occasions when you can practise Buddhism without the knowledge of other people.

Happy silent chanting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Never take what does not belong to you

Before learning about Buddhism, I used to be greedy. For example, if the hawker gave me more change that should be, I just kept quiet. However, if I was shortchanged, I would asked for the right change.
If we take more than our share, we owe something to the person who gives it to us. We are going to pay back many times in future or in our next lives. So is the working of karma.

If we take the government's property such as paper for our own use, we are owing to the people of the country who pay taxes so that such property can be acquired by the government.

See what I mean. Never take what does not belong to you or karma will run after you and you will have to pay back many times the amount owed.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The joy of playing Scrabble

When I was serving as a teacher in St Theresa Secondary School, I enjoyed playing scrabble with my colleagues. One teacher, in particular, Mr Low Seng Hong liked the game very much. He would usually arm himself with a dictionary for reference should dispute over the validity of a word arise.

We did not play this game on normal school days. Usually we did it after the students had taken their PMR exam and we had more time to ourselves because they were grouped into a few classes and teachers took turns to guard over them. They would be then be playing chess of reading in the classes too.

I like playing scrabble because I will learn new words through the words formed by my colleagues. As I told readers in one of the posts, I would not like a new word escape my attention. If a dictionary is near me, I will look it up straight away. Otherwise, I will look for its meaning when I reach home. I have quite a number of English dictionaries and surely I can find it in one of them.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Meeting a student who has become a doctor

At the hospital where I was treated for the dislocation of my jaws, an Indian man came to my bed and said, "You look familiar to me. Are you Mr Yeoh?" Then I asked him whether he was my student and he answered in the affirmative. I could not talk clearly because of my inability to move my jaws.

Later on a nurse came to tell me that the doctor wanted to talk to me. When I went to the doctor's table, he was the student who talked to me just now. He is now the medical officer of the hospital. Dr Ganesh then enlightened me that I taught him Malay when he was in Form Three. After completing his Sixth Form education in Methodist Boys' School, he furthered his studies in medicine at Universiti Putra Malaysia. He has been a doctor for thirteen years.

Through my student's help in arrangement for things to be done, things got expedited and I was relieved of my pain faster than should be. Through this blog, I would like to thank Dr Ganesh for his help when I was in predicament (Read yesterday's blog for details).