Monday, January 30, 2012

It is 'T'neah Kong Seah' again

When the clock strikes twelve zero one at midnight, the sound of firecrackers will be heard.

Yes, it is T'neah Kong Sneah (The Birthday of the Jade Emperor) again.

Legend has it that the Hokkien people were saved from being slaughtered by their enemies when they hid among the leaves of the sugarcane when they passed by a sugarcane plantation. Hence, on T'neah Kong Sneah, the main item is a pair of sugarcane plants with all its leaves and roots intact tied to the legs of the altar used to pray to the Jade Emperor of the Heavenly Realm. It is a way the Hokkien people say thank you to this plant for saving their lives.

Other items for prayer include 'ong lai' (pineapple) to bring in good luck, 'nian gao' to symbolises getting promotion year after year.

Happy praying to the Jade Emperor to all Chinese, especially the Hokkiens.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The three-day rental scam

If you have a house for rent, watch out for people who offer to pay you very attractive rental.

There is evil intention behind their act. Read the following true account of the rental scam.

A man, Mr X wanted to rent a house on a daily basis after having seen the telephone number of the house owner somewhere.

He offered to pay RM200 per day for three days that he would stay in the house. This transpired only through the phone. Being a busy man, the house owner had no time to see this tenant and he would come to collect the RM600 on the third day. Meanwhile he asked the tenant to collect the keys from the guardhouse as he left them with the guard.

On the third day, the house owner telephoned the tenant because he wanted to collect the rental from the man. However, the telephone was not opened. He tried several times and lt went dead all the time. Feeling suspicious he went to his flat unit and sure enough the man had esconded. Hence he locked his house with a new lock.

On the next day, a group of Banglashis came to the flat, telling the guard they were renting a house there. The guard took them to the unit mentioned earlier. They could not open the door of the flat unit. The guard then telephoned the house owner. He told them that he was not renting out the unit at that moment.

Only then did the foreign workers realise that the earlier temporary tenant had cheated them. He collected RM1900 from them, that is RM800 for deposit, RM800 for one month's rent and RM300 as utility bill deposit. He had produced an agreement with fake name and IC number on his part.

In conclusion, the unscrupulous tenant had cashed in on his deal with the house owner, milking money out of the Bangladeshis who worked in a nasi kandar eatery.


Monday, January 23, 2012

The Chinese usher in Year of the Dragon today

Today is the first day of Xin Nian or Chinese New Year. For this year, it is the year of the dragon.

Dragon symbolizes power and hence commoners were not allowed to wear clothing bearing any resemblance of the dragon. Only the King in China has the picture of dragon embossed on his attire which was known as 'long pao' or dragon robe.

The Chinese also likes to be associated with the dragon that they call themselves 'long de chuan ren' or 'descendents of the dragon'

It is believed that this year's dragon will bring in wealth or money as it is a 'water dragon'. In 'wu xing' or the five elements, the dragon belongs to water, one of the five elements. The other four are gold, wood, earth and fire.

When working at your desk, it is suggested you face west and avoid south-easterly direction.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reunion Dinner

Today is the day of get-together for family members far and near as it is Reunion Day - the Chinese New Year Eve.

Most Chinese people are working outside their hometowns and they seldom meet. However, once a year they will make it a point to get together over dinner when everyone will be present. It is during Reunion Dinner that they are together again as one family.

Usually steamboat dinner is the best choice with so many members of the family around.

I just finished Reunion Dinner with my family members. For this year, we can vegetarian steamboat. It is not a bad idea to go vegetarian as it is good for our health.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Taboos when making nian gao

Nian gao or what is know as kuih bakul in Malay is the glutinous rice dumpling cooked over slow fire for 12 to 24 hours. It is a must for Chinese New Year as the Chinese will place it on the altar of the Kitchen Dewa in the hope that He will make a good report of the household for the year in front of Jade Emperor in the Heavenly Realm when He goes there on the 24th of the twelfth lunar month. It serves as a 'bribe' to aske Him to report only the good things and leave all the bad ones.

When preparing this 'dodol' type of cake, there are certain taboos to be observed. No one should utter things that 'it won't turn out well', 'it will not turn to the colour of gold' or some negative thing said before it is cooked. If such things are uttered, nian gao will not turn out as it should be.

Moreover, ladies having period are also not allowed to prepare this food or it will turn out to the right colour and texture.

So much for taboos about making nian gao.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to use 'lend itself to' in a sentence

The expression 'lend itself to' means 'is suitable for'. You can sentences such as the ones below.

1 This hall lends itself to holding a grand birthday party as it is very spacious.

2 This stadium lends itself to hosting a grand concert as it can accommodate 5000 music enthusiasts.

However, you cannot make a sentence as follows.

This shirt lends itself to being worn by kids only.

You can say 'This shirt is only suitable for children only.'

Monday, January 16, 2012

A quick brown fox

While waiting for my SC (School Certificate) exam results, I enrolled at a typing school to learn typing. This proved useful to me even now because I can type with the correct fingering.

One sentence that I had typed many times and could still remember is the following sentence:

A quick brown fox jumps right over the lazy dog.

It contains all the letters in the English alphabet.

If you are learning to type, type the above sentence many times and you will have ample practice of all the letters on the keyboard.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Brilliant Mind

I just finished watching 'The Brilliant Mind' hosted by 8TV. It is a very good programme as it increases one's general knowledge. In the Reality Show, there are three competitors and one of them will be eliminated based on the lowest prize money gained. Then the remaining goes to the next stage of competition and finally one will go to the final when a RM30,000 is waiting for him or her if she managed to answer all the last five questions correctly.

In the first round, each participant is asked a general knowledge question. If he answers correctly he will be given RM300 and he will be allowed to answer question 2 which is based on a roulette with graphics and numbers superimposed and he will be asked to give two numbers where the graphics are identical. This question fetches RM200. Again, the same participant will be given another chance to give another pair of numbers whose grapics are the same in shape. This last question is worth RM400 if answered correctly.

All in all, I enjoyed watching the reality show.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Watching online TV

When I was touring China, I like to watch CCTV, the local television station. It came as a surprise to me that I could actually watch the same contents worldwide because CCTV has a online version with the same content broadcasted in real time. I discovered only today when I stumbled upon the site where you can choose to watch CCTV 1 until CCTV13.

I was attracted to the CNY special programme where talented people would be chosen to do the annual variety show. CCTV3 is now having auction and it is televised online. I suppose I will be able to watch the real variety show come this Chinese New Year.

It is a wonderful idea for countries to allow the world to view their television programmes as is done by China.

I will have a great time watching some of the wonderful documentaries thru this CCTV.

Friday, January 13, 2012

When air is water

In Malaysia, notices are displayed in Malay and English. Confusion arises when the spelling of both languages is the same.

For example, when your fill up your petrol at a petrol and needs to inflat you tyre you will go the side when water and the air pump are provided. Here you will see 'Air' and 'Angin' being displayed side by side. To the local people, it is very clear that 'air' means 'water' and 'angin' means 'air'. It will cause confusion to the foreigners as they may think that the Malay 'air' is the same as the air they are familiar with.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Subject verb agreement

Students should pay attention to subject verb agreement when they write their essays. In this post, I shall tell readers a little bit about this aspect of the English language.

In English, a singular subject should be followed by a singular verb, that is, a verb which has an 's' after it. Look at the following examples.
1 The boy likes to sing. ['boy' is singular and 'likes' is an singular verb.]
2. Hashim drives to work every day. [Hashim is singular and 'drives' is a singular verb.]
3. It is cute. [The pronoun 'It' is singular and the auxiliary verb 'is' is singular.]

When the subject is an abstract noun, it is considered singular and hence takes a singular verb. For instance, you can write sentences such as what are shown below.
1 Water is important to all living things. [Water is an abstract noun and it is singular]
2 Beauty is but skin deep. [Beauty is an abstract noun and is considered to be singular.]

Likewise, a plural subject will take a plural verb, a verb without the 's'. Let us look at some examples.
1 Boys are usualy naughty. ['Boys' is plural and hence takes a plural verb such as 'are']
2 They come here almost every evening. ['They' is plural and is followed by the plural verb 'come']

Some words may not have 's' but are plural in nature. These include cattle, the police, the poor, and the Chinese. Hence you can write sentences such as the ones below.
1 Cattle are reared by the villagers there.
2 The poor are give financial aid by the government.
3 The Chinese are celebrating Chinese New Year a week from now.

So much for subject verb agreement for today's post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

About the Malay word 'bazir'

The word 'bazir' is one of the Malay words that need to have the prefix 'meN' to be correct. Hence you cannot say 'Jangan bazir semasa menggunakan air.' The correct sentence should be 'Jangan membazir semasa menggunakan air.' (Don't waste water when you use water.'

You can add the suffix 'kan' to 'bazir' to form 'bazirkan' which is used in a command. For example, you can write 'Jangan bazirkan air.' (Don't waste water.)

The word 'bazir' can also be changed to the form 'membazirkan' by appending the suffix 'meN_kan'. You use 'membazirkan' which is a transitive verb in a statement. For instance, you can produce a sentence such as the one below.

Adik suka membazirkan air semasa mandi. (My brother likes to waste water when he bathes.)

To sum, 'bazir' cannot be used without the prefix 'meN'. In a command you can use 'bazirkan' dan in a statement 'membazirkan' is used.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The difference between 'live' and 'stay'

Do you know the difference between 'live' and 'stay'? If not, then read on.

If you live in a place, you occupy a house, carry on your daily activities from year 1 you were there until now. In other words, 'to live in a place' is to settle down in a place for a long time.

As for 'stay' it means put up in a place for a short time. Hence, when you go to your relative's house outstation, you will be put up there for a few days. In this case, we can say that you will stay there for several days.

So much for the difference in meaning between 'live' and 'stay'.

Happy living in your present house permanently and happy staying in your relative's house for a few days.

Monday, January 9, 2012

How to construct compound sentences in Malay

The first lesson with my Form 4 Malay Language class invariably begins with the scope of the SPM exam. In the section 'Pengetahuan dan Kemahiran Bahasa' (Knowledge and Skills in Language), students have to construct sentences. In order to make their sentences, I will introduce my cultured drink, the 'yakus' (Mind you, it's not Yakult). It stands for 'yang' (that/which), 'apabila' (when), 'kerana (because)', 'untuk' (to + verb) (to be followed by a verb) and 'supaya' (so that). As long as they include any one of these words in their sentence, it will become a compound sentence.

Let me show readers how this is so through the following sentences.
1 berisi
Dua buah bakul yang berisi buah durian ini dikandar oleh Pak Busu dari dusunnya.
[These two baskets which were filled with durians were carried by Pak Busu on a pole hung on his shoulder from his orchard.]

2 mengisi
Apabila saya mengisi sebarang borang, saya pasti berbuat demikian dengan berhati-hati.
[When I fill in any form, saya will certainly do so carefully.]

3 mengisikan
Saya mengisikan asid ke dalam botol itu dengan berhati-hati kerana tidak mahu menumpahkannya.
[Saya filled the botol with acid carefully because I did not want to spill it.]

4 memenuhi
Penonton sudah memenuhi stadium itu untuk menyaksikan perlawanan bola sepak antara pasukan Malaysia dengan pasukan Singapura.
[The spectators filled the stadium to watch the football match between the Malaysian team and the Singaporean team.]

5 mengekalkan
Aminah sentiasa mengekalkan kebersihan pekarangan rumahnya supaya dapat menjauhkan lalat dan lipas.
[Aminah always keeps her courtyard clean so that she can keep houseflies and cockroaches at bay.]

I hope this tip is useful to SPM students.

Happy constructing compound sentences the 'yakus' way.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

CNY is approaching

CNY or Chinese New Year is approaching. I can feel it when I walk down Ipoh Lane to the Jelutong market every morning. Along the lane, there are stalls selling new year cookies, Mandarin oranges and Xian Nian (New Year) decorative items. Roadside CD stalls are blaring out CNY songs to attract customers to buy them.

The Nian Gao (brown gluttinous rice dumpling) is on sale too. It is used for offering to the Kitchen God to 'bribe' him to tell good things about the household whe He goes to the Jade Emperor to do His annual reports to the Heavenly Emperor on the 24th day of the 12th moon according to the Lunar Calender which falls on the 17th of this month.

Stalls selling New Year dresses are doing a roaring business too. The Chinese will not fail to wear new dresses on New Year Day, the first day of Xin Nian. They like to start with a new beginning, hoping to have a better year ahead.

Come 23rd of January, the Chinese will usher in the Year of the Dragon. Many Chinese are getting married this year because they want to have their babies born in the Year of the Dragon - a very auspicious animal.

The disadvantage of a child born under the Dragon year is keen competition for places in the universities and chances of getting a scholarship when these children reach their college-going year.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

About 'akan' in Malay

The 'akan' in the Malay language can be classified under the group 'kata sendi nama' or prepositions or 'kata bantu' or auxiliary word.

Let me explain how to differentiate between the two.

When 'akan' is used in front of a verb, it belongs to the 'kata bantu' group whereas it becomes a 'kata sendi nama' when it is used after adjectives denoting feeling such as 'suka' (like), 'bimbang' (worry), 'cinta' (love), etc. Perhaps the following examples will clarify what I have said earlie.

1 Dia akan berkunjung ke tempat itu. [He will visit the place.]
'akan' here is a 'kata bantu'.

2 Aminah sangat sayang akan anak tunggalnya. [Aminah loves her only son dearly.]

I hope I have made mayself clear in explaining the different parts of speech for 'akan' in different context.

Friday, January 6, 2012

So do I

To economise the use of words, there are certain ways you can use to achieve this aim. One of them is explained below.

You use 'So do I' in response to 'My brother likes to eat ice cream.' as uttered by my brother.

Look at some other examples below:
1 She did not come to school yesterday.
So did her sister.
[The longer sentence is Her sister did not come to school yesterday too.]

2 They play badminton in the evening daily.
So does she.
[The longer sentence is She plays badminton in the evening daily too.]

So much for economising the use of words.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My joy was short-lived

It was good news for me when Telekom Malaysia called me informing me that my condominium flat was unifi-ready. In other words, I will be able to subscribe to unifi - a fast broadband service using optical fibre.

However, my joy was short-lived because when the technician came to install unifi, he found that the jumper for my block was not there yet. Needless to say, the man had to go back and I had to wait for the gadget to be fixed before he could do anything to bring unifi to my unit.

The package that I subscribe to is VIP5 which stands for Video, Internet and Phone with download speed at 5MB/sec. My present Streamyx speed is 2MB per second. There are two other packages, viz VIP10 and VIP20 with higher speed.

Looks like it will be quite some time before I will be able to enjoy the above high speed broadband Internet service.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to break monotony in your writing

I have been an examiner of 1119 English. What I really enjoyed was reading a piece of writing that did not bore me. I could tell it because I did not see repetition of the same expression often. The candidate varied his style of writing and he had a good command of the English language besides having a wide vocabulary.

When we write an essay, we should bear in mind our readers. They are the ones who will decide whether to read your written work or not. As such, variation of the style of writing, using different expression to put the same message across is what you need to do. In this respect, mastery of the language in terms of grammar, idioms, synonyms and so on should not be overlooked.

To put it in a nutshell, using various sentence structures, putting different words bearing the same meaning in your writing and inventing clear but interesting expressions will do the tricks of drawing readers to peruse what you have written.

If you are aware, I am just doing that in the preceding paragraphs.

Happy writing to all readers and English language learners.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How to download video clips from Youtube easily

Youtube has become so popular that every Internet used has used it before. For magic fans like me, the like to watch magic shows performed by Liu Qian. He is so talented in attracting the audience and have them spellbound with his show. You will never feel bored watching his deft hands conjuring things and making them disappear in front of you.

I have tried a few freeware to download video clips from Youtube and I found that the best way is to go an online site to do it. I shall now share this site with readers. The URL is

When you go to this site, there is a space for you to place the URL of the video clip from Youtube. Just dump it there and the intended clip will be shown before it, giving a choice to download as an avi, mp4, or other video formats shown. Click the one you fancy and it will download for you.

By the way, you need to right click your mouse at the Youtube video clip and click 'copy location of url' or something to that effect.

Happy downloading video clips using the above method.

Monday, January 2, 2012

How to use 'antara' correctly

In the Malay language, the word 'antara' (between / among) can be classifed under kata sendi nama or preposition and kata arah or direction word.

As a preposition, 'antara' is used for situation not related to position. Perhaps, the following examples will suffice to illustrate this point.
1 Antara mereka berdua, saya lebih suka berkawan dengan Azmi. [Between the two of them, I prefer to befriend Azmi.] In this sentence, the word 'mereka' (they) does not show position.

2 Pertandingan nyanyian antara kelas akan diadakan pada hari ini. [Inter-class singing competition will be held today.] In this sentence, kelas (class) does not indicate any sense of direction.

3 Kerjasama antara negara jiran amat penting demi kebaikan bersama. [Co-operation among neighbouring countries is vital for their common good.] In this sentence, too, the phrase 'negara jiran' (neighbouring countries) does not show position.

When 'antara' is used after the preposition 'di' (at), it functions as a kata arah or direction word. The combination of 'di antara' will show position when used in sentences. Let us look at some examples when position is indicated with 'di antara' being used.
1 Adik duduk di antara ibu dengan bapa. [My younger brother / sister is sitting between my mum and my dad.] In this sentence, 'adik' is positioned between 'ibu' (mother) and 'ayah' (father).

2 Kuala Lumpur terletak di antara Perlis dengan Johor. [Kuala Lumpur is situated between Perlis and Johor.] In this sentence, Kuala Lumpur is shown to be occupying a place between Perlis and Johor.

A few points need to be pointed in using 'antara'.
a) When two people or two things are involved using 'antara' is used, the conjunction 'dengan' (and) is to be used and not 'dan' (And) e.g. Antara buah durian dan buah manggis, saya lebih suka makan buah durian. [Wrong]
Antara buah durian dengan buah manggis, saya lebih suka makan buah durian. [Wrong]
[ Between durians and mangosteens, I prefer to eat durians.]

b) The nouns after 'antara' need not be duplicated as antara carries the meaning of being plural in nature. e.g. Antara buah-buah yang dijual di gerai itu, hanya buah nanas ialah buah tempatan. [Incorrect]
Antara buah yang dijual di gerai itu, hanya buah nanas ialah buah tempatan. [Among the fruits sold at the stall, only the pineapple is a local fruit.] [Correct]

c) If three people or things are involved, the conjunction used together with 'antara' is 'dan' (and) and not 'dengan'.
e.g. Antara Ali, Busu dengan Chandran, Busu ialah lelaki yang paling tinggi. [Wrong]
Antara Ali, Busu dan Chandran, Busu ialah lelaki yang paling tinggi. [Correct]

I really hope my post today will help readers to use 'antara' correctly and confidently.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

First of all, let me wish all readers a very Happy New Year.

Today is the first day of 2012. As usual, people will start to make New Year Resolutions only to find that they can't do what have planned to initially. I did the same and was not able to carry out some of them.

For this year, I hope to write something every day. Last year I was not regular in writing my posts and hopefully I will be more regular this year.

Looking back at my posts I wrote more posts on English and Malay than other topics. I tend to write something which I think will be of interest to readers before I start to pen my post.

Sometimes laziness sets in and I do surfing the Internet rather than writing my post. Once you get lazy, it spreads to the next day and the next day. If I can form the habit of writing something daily, then it will be a routine and I won't miss writing the post meant for the day.

Once again, a very Happy New Year to all.