Archive for September, 2008

Did You Know?

Did you know forbade can be pronounced as for bad? (Well, I learnt about it last week)

Did you know ate can be pronounced as et? (I got this from the audio book)

Did you know scones rhyme with cons too? (I learnt this from a Plymouthian who said that this alternative is more posh)

Did you also know that the first syllable of Cambridge sound like came rather than cam? (I knew about that when I visited that place a decade ago)

Did you know that Berwick is pronounced as be-rick? (Julie trapped me with this one in 2005)

And did you know that I double-checked all the above words in English Pronouncing Dictionary? You can have my word then.

September 24, 2008 at 10:31 am 1 comment

Fun with Pronunciation

Pronunciation has always had a special place in my heart. In my secondary years, I would make it a point to tune in to BBC shortwave just to listen to some of the stories read. And when I first got hold of my first pronouncing dictionary by Daniel Jones, I would refer to it each time I was unsure of how a particular word ought to be pronounced.

The pronunciation path that I took has stood me in good stead. Having said that, I’m of the belief that everyone has a right to choose whichever variety of spoken English s/he intends to attain. If a person decides to model his/her pronunciation after speakers of RP, who are we to judge? That goes for Malaysian English as well.

If you are up to it, you may decide to be a chameleon like most actors or spies are. I think Hugh Laurie did an excellent job sounding American in House. Don’t you agree?

Have a go at some of the English vowels as seen in the following video clip. It reminds me of how Higgins drills Eliza. By the way, the voice behind the clip is Daniel Jones.

September 23, 2008 at 8:31 am 2 comments

Castration practised in Malaysia?

The most talked about topic in Malaysia now is the fate of the ISA. However I’m not here to give you my opinion on this matter. I’m more interested in one particular word which is used in connection with it.

I’ve heard appeals made that the incastrated detainees be released. This is indeed an interesting use of malapropism. Perhaps this happens because the users are not used to that word and so the tendency to fall into this blunder is greater. It’s like saying that it’s irreverent when it should be irrelevant or vice versa.

If you take the time to listen to people talking, you are bound to find more of these slips and blunders. This is so true with people who love to use high-flown expressions. I now leave you with another hilarious quip which I heard sometime back during the flood in Kuala Lumpur. The interviewee was quoted as saying, “The whole city was intonated.”

September 21, 2008 at 6:18 pm 1 comment

Tuck Farm

It’s safe to say that most people are quite tolerant of the different varieties of spoken English . Therefore the need to acquire the accent of the native speakers is considered of no importance. However this is not the case with languages which are not used universally.

Recently an Iranian told us she heard of this Malay expression tuck farm. Thank God she explained to us that it meant I don’t understand. She was immediately corrected. But I was thinking to myself what if the so-called error was left uncorrected. And why did she drop the ‘h’ in faham? Perhaps she misheard it. Is that how Cockney English came into being? Somehow someone misheard Henry Higgins as ‘enry ‘iggins, perhaps?

It’s worth a thought, isn’t it? If we have more foreign students coming to Malaysia, we might have to accept the fact that we are going to have different Malay varieties. Perhaps what I mentioned earlier can be subsumed under Iranian Malay. What say you?

September 20, 2008 at 9:14 pm 2 comments

Loss or Gain

There are films which leave you feeling empty. And there are movies that bring a cheer or two to you. Recently I watched My Boy Jack which left me thinking of the meaning of love and life. If a father were in a way responsible for sending his son to battle and the child were to be killed in the war, what would we think of the father? Do take a moment to watch this video clip where Rudyard Kipling (played by David Haig) talked about his son who perished in the Battle of Loos:

The death of a beloved may bring untold pain and sufferings to the bereaved. But knowing that the loss of a life brought forth some measure of comfort to others may soften the blow.

A long time ago, a man was condemned to die a most humiliating death despite his innocence. He remained true to his word “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”.

September 19, 2008 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Peace at Last

Wonder hes at peace or not?

Wonder if he's at peace or not?

Recently Periwinkles recounted to me this funny encounter with her close friend. As she was leaving her house, her friend bade her good night. But what surprised her was that she ended it with ‘May you rest in peace‘. She was momentarily stunned but not offended. She knew that her friend was still grappling with some of the common phrases in the English language.

I then realised that what she faced wasn’t that unique after all. I’ve heard of people wishing that they keep on touching rather than keep in touch. There was also this instance when someone said he was thinking of putting up with someone rather than putting up at his place. Yet despite the wrong usage, we somehow know the intent of the speaker.

Is there a point in having to learn the right thing? I personally feel we should. If we want to keep misunderstanding at bay, our message must be clear. Then hopefully, we’ll be understood and perhaps we might have peace.

September 18, 2008 at 12:07 pm 2 comments

Lock or Locket

A lock or locket

Lock in a Locket

Which comes first? The chicken or the egg? I suppose this question can be applied to my post for today: which comes first, the lock or the locket? You may think this is an easy question but consider this.

Since the dawn of creation, humans have been endowed with this lustrous hair (or the lack of it). The thing is who would have thought of lopping a bit off for keepsake. And when the locket came along, was it meant for the lock? Or was it meant to have photographs of our beloved kept within? I honestly don’t know. Do you?

What I do know is that to call this trinket a locket is so spot on. A locket is meant to be worn around the neck so that it’s near to one’s heart. Perhaps hair being the crowning glory is a personification of that person. And so to keep the other’s lock is to have that person’s memory remained locked within.

A word of caution though. Should you want to save someone’s hair for keeps, make sure it’s properly treated. We don’t want lice running around your locket, do we?

September 17, 2008 at 8:16 am 1 comment


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