Saturday, October 31, 2009

Making good use of my bathroom scale

I will be going to China on the November 2. This time I will be going to Guilin - a place famous for its breathtaking scenery.

Before the trip, I had to do some preparation such as packing what needs to be taken. I also check the weather every day through Weather Yahoo so that I can bring along thicker clothing in case the weather turns too cold for me.

According to my tour agency, we can bring only 20kg of luggage, 5 kg of hand luggage and 1 kg of liquid medicine or cosmetics to be put in transparent bags for checking purposes.

How do I know whether my luggage is overweight? I had an idea to find this out. I put the luggage on my bathroom scale (weighing machine) and it showed only 12 kg.

How useful is my bathroom scale this time!

Friday, October 30, 2009

How much are you going to give me?

Whenever I ask my students whether they can answer all the questions I give them correctly, one or two of them will say, "How much are you going to give me if I answer all of them correctly?"

I feel very sad because these pupils of mine always think in terms of money when they want to accomplish something. When I say, "I will give you a pen.", they will say that I am very stingy. They do not think of the reward given by the teacher as something to be proud of. Rather they sneer at the gift as something very inferior and not worthy of being its recipient.

They also forget the respect they get from the teacher if they can answer all the questions correctly, assuming that the questions I ask test them on what I have taught them before. Respect is something you cannot buy with money.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reduce the use of plastic bags

In English, if you want to refer to things in general, use the plural form of the nouns. Usually, examples are given in plural form. Recently, Penang people have been asked to use less plastic bags.

In one supermarket, the notice reads, 'Help to conserve nature, reduce the use of plastic bag.' In this case, since plastic bags are things in general, the notice should read, "Help to conserve nature, reduce the use of plastic bags"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Earning a decent living versus making easy money

Whenever I see the disabled try to earn a living themselves, I really despise the snatch-thieves. Very often, these physically-handicapped people will be selling lottery tickets, packet food or some other ware. They make money through their own effort.

As for the snatch-thieves in Malaysia, they prey on ladies carrying handbags. Not only do they take away other people's possession, they also do harm to the victims. Normally they will push the ladies until they fall. There have been cases of victims who died because of snatch-theft. Making easy money this way is really despicable.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Charging fees for ten rounds of treament at one shot

I was talking to the lady acupuncturist who inserted big needle to separate my vein from the muscle in the treatment of my 'trigger finger' or carpal tunnel when I asked her where she received her training in acupuncture. She told that she went to China to undergo a short course in this field.

One thing she told me about the practitioners there is that they charge patients fees for ten rounds of treatment. According to her, they have their reasons. For one thing, the effect of acupuncture will only show after a number of treatments. For another, they need not ask the patients to come back for treatment because they have paid the fees and they will automatically come for subsequent treatment.

In Malaysia, she said, the practitioners will charge the patients per trip. Some will stop treatment after two times because they don't see improvement in their condition of ailments. For my case I keep going because I know that one or two times of acupuncture will not produce the desire effect.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Longing for sisterly love

I am the second son in the family. I have one brother and two younger sisters. Since I was a boy, I have been longing to have a sister. This is because usually an elder sister will love her siblings and does everything for them. Whenever I saw other children being pampered by their sisters, I was really envious and jealous of them. This longing for sisterly love is always with me.

When I had a chance to take part in the Students' Exchange Programmed held at Penang Hill way back in 1966. I met a Kuala Lumpur girl who was two years older than I. Jokingly, I asked her to be my god-sister and she agreed. After the camp, we used to correspond until I joined a teacher's college. In the letters I wrote to her, I always begin with "Dearest sister," and I could feel the sisterly love she had for me through the letters she wrote to me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Biligual Post 1

Biligual Post 1

Biasanya blog saya ditulis dalam bahasa Inggeris. Untuk kali ini saya akan menulisnya dalam bahasa Melayu dan bahasa Inggeris kerana isi blog hari ini ada kaitan dengan bahasa Melayu.

Hari ini, saya ingin membincangkan empat maksud untuk perkataan ‘melunaskan’.

Maknanya yang pertama ialah ‘melangsaikan atau menjelaskan (hutang)’. Lihatlah contoh ayat yang berikut:

Kaki judi yang tidak dapat melunaskan hutangnya kepada lintah darat itu telah dikerjakannya.

Maksud kedua bagi ‘melunaskan’ ialah ‘menepati (janji)’. Satu contohnya dalam ayat adalah seperti yang berikut:

Azmi sering dipercayai kawan-kawannya kerana dia melunaskan setiap janji yang dibuatnya.

Menebus’ ialah makna ketiga untuk kata kerja ‘melunaskan’. Anda boleh membuat ayatnya seperti di bawah ini:

Johari yang banyak berdosa itu sudah bertaubat and mula melunaskan dosanya dengan beramal.

‘Melunaskan’ juga membawa maksud ‘menunaikan (kewajipan). Ayat yang boleh kita buat untuk mendukung makna ini ialah:

Penjudi itu tidak melunaskan kewajipannya sebagai seorang bapa kerana jarang-jarang memberikan saraan hidup kepada keluarganya.

I shall translate the above post into English for the benefit of international readers.

Usually I write my posts in English. However, for today’s post, I shall write in Malay and English because today’s post is related to the Malay language.

Today I am going to discuss the four meanings of the word ‘melunaskan’.

The first meaning of the word is ‘to settle money owed to others’. Look at the following sentence.

Kaki judi yang tidak dapat melunaskan hutangnya kepada lintah darat itu telah dikerjakannya.

[The gambler who was not able to settle his debt to the loan shark was beaten up by him.]

The second meaning of ‘melunaskan’ is ‘to honour or keep (a promise)’. One example of its usage is in a sentence as follows:

Azmi sering dipercayai kawan-kawannya kerana dia melunaskan setiap janji yang dibuatnya.

[Azmi is always trusted by his friends because he honours every promise he makes.]

‘To redeem’ is the third meaning of the word ‘melunaskan’. You can make a sentence such as the one below:

Johari yang banyak berdosa itu sudah bertaubat and mula melunaskan dosanya dengan beramal.

[Johari who has committed a lot of sins has repented and starts to redeem his sins by doing charity work.]

Melunaskan’ also carries the meaning of ‘to fulfill (an obligation)’ A sentence we can make to bring out this meaning is:

Penjudi itu tidak melunaskan kewajipannya sebagai seorang bapa kerana jarang-jarang memberikan saraan hidup kepada keluarganya.

[The gambler did not fulfill his obligation as a father because he seldom give subsistence to his family.]

So much for Malay words with more than one meaning.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What do call a cock without a tail in Malay?

Another word of interest in Malay is the word 'togel'. It means without a tail.

Hence a cock without a tail is called 'ayam togel'.

This word is specially meant for chicken as pointed out by my well-esteemed friend Cikgu Yaakub Isa. I was misled by the explanation in the 'Kamus Pelajar', a dictionary publised by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka when it states (togel: tidak berekor tentang ayam dan lain-lain).

I was under the impression that 'dan lain-lain' can include dogs and cats because there were actually naughty boys who had severed the tails of such animals in real life situation. Hence the earlier contents of the post appeared. I would like to thank Cikgu Yaakub for sharing his knowledge with me.

So much for an interesting word in Malay for your perusal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How do you say 'I am in stitches' in Malay?

In the course of learning and teaching English and Malay, I find that certain expressions are peculiar to both languages. In this post, I will take one example to illustrate what I mean.

How do you say 'I am in stitches' in Malay?

By the way, 'I am in stitches' mean 'I can't help laughing incessantly.'

If you translate the above sentence as 'Saya dalam jahitan' you are wrong.

The correct equivalent is 'Saya tak kering gusi.' In Malay, the expression 'tak kering gusi' means 'laugh incessantly because of watching some funny act by someone.'

'Tak kering gusi' is literally 'the gum is not dry'. I suppose when you laugh you produce so much saliva that it wets you gum all the time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The two meanings of 'kemasukan'

Today's post is about the two meanings of the Malay word 'kemasukan'.

As a noun, it means entry. Look at the following sentence to see how it is used in this sense.

Unit ini ditubuhkan khas untuk mengendalikan kemasukan pelajar ke semua universiti di Malaysia. [This unit was specially set up to manage the entry of students to all universities in Malaysia.]

The other meaning of 'kemasukan' as a passive verb means 'dimasuki' (entered by). The sentence below shows how the word is used in this context.
Mataku terasa pedih kerana kemasukan debu. [My eye felt painful because it was entered by dirt.]

Monday, October 19, 2009

Friendship is the play of karma

In real life situation, we don't expect things to happen our ways. For example, you had planned to buy Wan Tan Mee at a certain stall but when you reached the place the stall was closed. Hence it is better for us to act according to circumstances.

A fresh graduate may not get a job suitable to his training at the university. Well, accept the job first and wait for a chance to do something related to your field when opportunity strikes later. This is the play of fate or karma as Buddhists call it.

We sometimes happen to see a stranger but we take a liking to him or her. It shows that somewhere in our last life we know him or her. React by smiling at him or her, hoping that he or she will reciprocate. At times friendship is gained this way as fate has it.

In the past I used to I wonder why I liked someone and detested another. Through the study of Buddhism I now realise that it is the play of karma. The one you like is the one very close to you such as your father, mother, wife, husband or sibling and the one you hate was your enemy or had done a lot of harm to you.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nine Emperor Gods Festival

The Nine Emperor Gods Festival or known as Kew Ong Yeah Sneah in Penang Hokkien starts today. It will last for nine days. During this period, devotees will cleanse themselves by taking only vegetarian diet. They will also go to the Kew Ong Yeah temples to pray for better luck, wealth and longevity.

The nine sons of Tou Mu (Goddess of the North Star) who controls the books of life and death. Her sons (nine of them) were supposed to have the ability or power to bestow luck, wealth and longevity to devotees as they were deified as Jen Huang or Human Sovereigns or Kings.

Vegetarian stalls can be seen along the roadsides selling vegetarian dishes to devotees. These stalls are hanging yellow banners bearing the name of Kew Ong Yeah.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Present perfect tense versus Past perfect tense

How to use present perfect and past perfect tenses

The present perfect tense is used to describe an action that was started earleir and is still in progress or an action that has been done. Look at the following examples.
1 It has been raining since this morning. [It started to rain this morning and right now it is still raining]

2 I have lived here since 10 years ago. [I started to live here 10 years ago and I am still living here.]

3 The pupil has been absent from school since last Monday. [The pupil was absent from last Monday until now.]

4 I have taken my lunch. [I took my lunch quite some time ago and this act has been completed and I am just telling you this fact.]
[You should not state the time if you use present perfect tense. You can say 'I took my lunch at 1.00p.m. but you cannot say 'I have taken my lunch at 1.00 p.m.]

As for past perfect tense, it is used together with the past tense to indicate an action that was done earlier than the one mentioned in the past tense. To make this clear to readers, study the following sentences.
1 I had taken my breakfast when I went out. [Taking my breakfast happened first. Going out took place later.]

2 She had run for 20 kilometres when she fainted. [Running for 20 kilometers took place first and fainting happened later]

3 I had planned what to write in this post when I started to pen whatever was in my mind. [Planning what to write happened first and starting to pen took place later.]

So much for present perfect tense and past perfect tense.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tricked by the cry of children

Recently there have been many cases of fake kidnapping done to demand ransom from the parents of victims. This is how it is done.

A man or woman will telephone the house of the supposed victim in the kidnapping (How they got the number is best known to the crook only). He will tell the father or mother that he has their child and will release him only upon payment of a ransom. The amount is then quoted, followed by a tape recording of a child crying and asking the father or mother to save him. Usually, the parents will be too panicked to discern the voice, thinking that it must be their child's and so pay the money only to find that their child is still in school unharmed. The police cannot put the 'kidnapper' in prison as there is no case of real abduction.

There was one case told by my friend, Yong from Raub. The man demanded RM20 000 and the mother bargained it down to RM5000 but she still did not have enough money and went to borrow money from a friend. The friend told her to check whether her daughter was in school as the school was very near her house. Hence she went to the school and found her daughter safe and sound. Of course, she did not pay any sum of money to the crook.

I hope parents who read this blog will be cautious and not be hoodwinked by the crook who is out to make fast money.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back blogging again

I am back blogging again after a lapse of six days. Sometimes, I really find it hard to think of something to write about in this blog. Somehow I manage to produce a post because I stick to my daily blogging routine.

However, my trigger-finger condition forced me to stop blogging for a while because it was quite painful keying in when my forefinger could not flex. Today, I tried keying in and found that I could manage and so I am penning something right now.

There are followers of this blog whom I have to think of if ever I have to skip blogging for a day. I hope I won't miss blogging from now on unless I go on a trip somewhere. If nothing goes wrong, I will be visiting China again in November. This time I may go to Yunan or Kuiling.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The three meanings of 'melewati'

In this post, I will talk about the Malay language again. This time I will deal with words with more than one meaning. Let us look at the word 'melewati' which as three meanings.

The first meaning is pass by. You can make a sentence such as the one below.
Semasa saya melewati rumah Ali, dia sedang menelaah pelajaran.
[When I was passing by Ali's house, he was doing his revision.]

The second meaning of 'melewati' is 'through'. The following sentence will illustrate this.
Penulis memberitahu kita pentingnya memulihara dunia kita melewati novel ini.
[The author tells us the importance of conserving our earth through this novel.]

The third meaning of 'melewati' is 'skip' and it can be shown by the sentence below.
Untuk mengetahui kesudahan cerita ini, saya melewati bab-bab yang tidak menarik .
[To know the ending of this story, I skipped those uninteresting chapters.]

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The usage of 'diangkat' and 'terangkat'

The passive verb 'diangkat' which means 'is lifted' is used for pronouns of the third person such dia, mereka and beliau. Hence it is correct if we write:
1 Kerusi itu diangkat oleh beliau lalu diletakkannya di atas meja.
[The chair was lifted by him and then put on the table.]

2 Kotak-kotak itu diangkat oleh mereka untuk dibawa ke sana.
[The boxes were lifted by them to be carried there.]

It is write if we write:
3 Basikal itu diangkat oleh saya. [This basikal was lifted by me.]
The correct sentence should be 'Basikal ini saya angkat.'

As for 'terangkat' which means ' is able to be lifted' can be used for all personal pronouns.
For example, it is correct to write sentences such as the ones below:
1 Kotak yang berat ini terangkat oleh saya. [This heavy box was able to be lifted by me.]

2 Besi yang berat ini pasti tidak terangkat oleh engkau. [This heavy iron was surely able to be lifted by you.]

3 Batu yang berat ini terangkat olehnya. [This heavy stone was able to be lifted by him.]

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The use of Malay words in Penang Hokkien

Besides being melodious in the sing-song manner Penang Hokkien is spoken, it contains quite a lot of Malays words. Some of these are listed below.

1 Gua balu (should be baru) khua tio ee niah. [I just saw him.]
The Malay word baru is used here, but pronounced as balu because in Hokkien there is no 'r' sound.

2 Lu takkan bei hiau meh? [Don't you know this?]
The Malay phrase takkan (tak akan) is used to mean 'don't' here.

3 Gua chang aik (pronounced as egg) eh si gua yong sa bun. [I use a cake of soap when I bathe.]
The Malay word sabun (soap) is used here.

4 Ee kau yin (should be kahwin) ka gua eh char boh khneah. [He married my daughter.]
The Malay word kahwin which is pronounced as kau yin by the Penang Hokkiens is used here.
5 Ee yong ba tu tim hee chiak kau. [He threw a stone at the dog.]
The Malay word batu (stone) is used here.

6 Gua su ka chiak liu lian. [I like to eat durians.]
The Malay words suka (like) and durian which is pronounced as liu lian by the Penang Hokkiens are used here.

7 Gua eh mak chu eh gu lai chin kneah lu mak. [The curry cooked by my mother is very creamy.]
The Malay words gulai (curry) and lemak which is uttered as lu mak are used here.

8 Ee chay tuah goh kha khi. [He sat on the corridor.]
Goh (five) kha khi (which in Malay is kaki) is the equivalent of kaki lima (corridor).

9 Ee kau gia som bong. [He is very arrogant.]
The Malay word sombong (proud) is used here.

10 Ee khi jam ban pang sai. [He went to the loo to defaecate.]
The Malay word jamban (toilet /loo) is used here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coining their own spelling

In the process of marking my students' essays, I often come across wrong spelling for the past tense. They take the easy way out by adding ed to form any verb used in the past tense, not realising that there are irregular verbs whose spelling does not follow the normal spelling rule. Such words include take (took, taken), go (went, gone), and choose (chose, chosen).

These are some of the words in the past tense coined by my students.
1 I breaked a glass yesterday. [It should be broke.]
2 Her sister cutted her finger this morning. [The correct one is cut.]
3 My father taked me to the zoo last week. [It should be replaced with took.]
4 We choosed a shady tree under which we put our things. [It should have been chose.]
5 They hurted their legs while walking on the beach full of broken shells. [It should be hurt.]
6 Ali speaked to his neighbour about the matter two days ago. [The correct spelling is spoke.]
7 They digged a hole and buryed the dead cat in it. [The word should be replaced with dug.]
8 He keeped his money under his pillow. [It should be kept.]

Monday, October 5, 2009

How Hokkiens greet each other when they meet

If you meet your neighbour in the morning, you say, "Good morning" and he will reciprocate with the same greeting. However when Hokkiens, especially the elderly meet each other, they will say "Lu chiak par ah boi? " [Have you eaten until you are full?]

According to a story, the Hokkiens had a hard life in the past and food was scarce. Hence it was a very happy thing to have food to eat. The greeting was a show of concern to friends or relatives.

Before I pen off, 'lu chiak par ah boi?'

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Redundancy in Malay usage

Learners of the Malay language often make mistakes because of redundancy in its usage. In this post, I will talk about such mistakes so as to promote the correct usage.

1 "saling" which means "mutual" is often used together with duplicated words, causing redundancy.
For example, hormat-menghormati means respect each other or one another. It carries the sense of mutuality. Hence it is wrong to write "Mereka saling hormat-menghormati." The correct sentences should be:
a) Mereka saling menghormati. [They respect one another.]
b) Mereka hormat-menghormati. [They respect one another.]

2 "antara satu dengan yang lain" also shows the mutual sense. Hence it is wrong to write:
Mereka bantu-membantu antara satu dengan yang lain.
The correct sentences should be:
a) Mereka bantu-membantu. [They help one another.]
b) Mereka membantu antara satu dengan yang lain. [They help one another.]

So much for redundancy in Malay usage.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The slight difference between 'awhile' and 'a while'

Look at the following sentences and tell me which is wrong?
1 Please wait for awhile and I'll be with you soon.
2 Please wait for a while and I'll be with you soon.

The first sentence is wrong because 'awhile' needs no preposition in front of it.
Hence the first sentence should be rendered as:
Please wait awhile and I'll be with you soon.

Both wait awhile and for a while means wait for a moment.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tai Yu versus Penang Hokkien

I like watching Taiwanese soap opera as the 'Tai Yu' (Hokkien dialect spoken in Taiwan) is very much the same as the Penang Hokkien I speak at home. There are certain expressions which differ between the two dialects. In this post, I will talk about some of these differences.

1 Tai Yu: Sa Kang [to help]
Penang Hokkien: Tau Kha Chew [to help]
e.g. Tai Yu: Gua ka li tau sa kang. [I will help you.]
Penang Hokkien: Gua ka lu tau kha chew. [I will help you.]
[note that you is lu in Penang Hokkien and li in Tai Yu]

2 Tai Yu: Tahu Khak Phai Khi [mad]
Penang Hokkien: Siau [mad]
e.g Tai Yu: Li thau khak phai khi. [You are mad.]
Penang Hokkien: Lu Siau khi. [You are mad.]

3 Tai Yu: Obasang [old woman]
Penang Hokken: Lau Ah Poh [old woman]
e.g. Hee Lay Obasang chin thi khi. [The old woman is very stubborn.]
Hee Lay lau ah poh chin kneah thi khi. [the old woman is very stubborn.]

So much for some examples of Tai Yu and Penang Hokkien.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The story of greed

This is a story I heard from a monk who talked about human greed.

One day, a kind-hearted man passed by a beggar who said to him, "Give me one hundred dollars." Out of compassion, the man dug into his pocket only to realise thatt he had only eighty dollars. Hence he handed all the amount to the beggar. Instead of showing gratitude by saying 'Thank You', the beggar said, "Remember you still owe me twenty dollars."

The moral of the story is that human greed cannot be satisfied. Because of greed, some people will go all out to get more and more money some of which is not needed at all. According to Buddhism such people who will reborn as ghosts when they pass away. Even the Chinese has the phrase 'Tan Xin Gui' (Greedy Ghost) to refer to a person who is very greedy.