Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The demise of a young soul

During last night's Form 5 English class, I was surprised and sad to learn that one of my students, Al-Amin passed away in a road accident. A bus had knocked him down and dragged him a few meters ago. He died on the spot because of serious injuries sustained when he was being run over and dragged along by the bus.

This tragic news really awakened us to the transient world we are in. We are here for the time being and we can be called by God anytime.

I remember Al-Amin as an enthusiastic student in my English class. He would jot down the meaning of every new word he came across or the one whose meaning I wrote on the whiteboard. According to his friend, he had turned over a new leaf as previously he was a naughty student who always tried to test his teachers' patience with his rudeness and misbehaviour.

The Chinese always believe that if a bad person suddenly turns good it is a bad sign because some misfortune will befall him. Al-Amin's case seems to fit this phenomenon.

Beating the traffic light when it turns red always end up in tragedy. If Al-Amin had been patient enough to wait for the traffic lights to go green, he would still be in my class. However, sometimes, if his 'ajal' (the day one is destined to die) has come, there is no way he can escape it.

I really miss Al-Amin's naughtiness and his spirit to master the English language.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Zhong Qiu Jie is here again

Come tomorrow and the Chinese all over the world will celebrate Zhong Qiu Jie or Mid-Autumn Festival. The cake not to be missed on this day is the Yue Ping or Moon Cake which is offered to the Moon on the 15th day of the eighth moon,according to the Lunar Calender.

Legend has it that a maiden named Zhang Er had swallowed a pill that immortalize her and she flew direct to the moon, leaving her lover on the Earth. It is her that offering is made on Zhong Qiu Jie and the Moon Cake is one of the items used for this purpose.

On the night of Zhong Qiu Jie, children will be carrying lighted lanterns to celebrate the occasion and make the festival merrier. Nowadays, modern electronic gadgets have replaced the old types of coloured paper lanterns.

Happy Zhong Qiu Jie to all who celebrate this occasion.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

About 'antara'

For today's post, I will talk about the usage of the Malay word 'antara' as I find that it is not being used correctly by some users of the language.

The word 'antara' which means 'between' or 'among' belongs to 'kata sendi nama' (preposition) and 'kata arah' (direction word). Used alone, it belongs to 'kata sendi nama'. For example, if you write 'Antara Ali dengan Abu, saya lebih suka berkawan dengan Abu. (Between Ali and Abu, I prefer to befriend Abu), it is used as a 'kata sendi nama' or preposition.

If you use it after another preposition 'di', then it belongs to 'kata arah'. For instance, you can write a sentence such as the one below:
Adik duduk di antara abang dengan kakak. (My younger brother is sitting between my elder brother and my elder sister).

In the above sentence, 'antara' is used as a 'kata arah' or direction word (for lack of a better term, I use 'direction word' to render the translation).

Now I shall elaborate on the correct usage of 'antara'.
1 When used alone, 'antara' is used for 'non-position' situations.
e.g. Kerjasama antara negara amat penting. (Co-operation among nations is very vital.)

2 If it is used after 'di' to become 'di antara', then it is used for situation denoting position.
e.g. Kedai runcit itu terletak di antara kedai tukang jahit dengan kedai gunting rambut. (The grocery shop is situated between the tailor shop and the barber shop.)

3 The noun that follows 'antara' must not be duplicated.
e.g. Antara buku-buku ini, buku merah ini paling mahal. [wrong]
Antara buku ini, buku merah ini paling mahal. [correct]
(Among these books, this red book is the most expensive.)
Notice that 'buku-buku' used after 'antara' should be used singly to become 'buku'.

4 If there are only two objects used between 'antara', then 'dengan' is used.
e.g. Antara buah durian dan buah manggis, saya lebih suka makan buah manggis.[wrong]
Antara buah durian dengan buah manggis, saya lebih suka makan buah manggis. [correct] (Between durians and mongosteens, I prefer eating mongosteens.]

5 However, if there are three objects or things used together with 'antara', then 'dan' is used.
e.g. Antara Ali, Abu dengan Chandran, Abu paling gemuk. [wrong]
Antara Ali, Abu dan Chandran, Abu paling gemuk. [correct]
[Among Ali, Abu and Chandran, Abu is the fattest.]

I hope the above tips on the usage of 'antara' will be of help to students and Malay language users.