Donation: Voluntary?

donationI was walking along the street on Wesak Day, and I found this message: “Donations are voluntary” written on a box (pic.), and that started me to think – are donations not meant to be “voluntary” i.e. given from the bottom of our hearts? 

I mean, since when has donation become compulsory? Perhaps we are confused with the word “tithe“. To Muslims, they have to pay tithes – a sum of money paid to help those in need. Even some Christian sects require their congregation to give a small sum of their annual income as tax to the church, and this amount will be used for charity or to fund certain religious events.

Therefore:

  • tithe is compulsory, and is given on a regular basis
  • donation is not compulsory, and any amount is acceptable

What if you see this: “Please donate a minimum amount of $5.” – I believe you have 😛

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Report, report

Which verb comes before the word “report“? See the phrases below. Can you tell when each one is used?

  • make a report
  • write a report
  • present a report
  • give a report

You make a report when something happens and you want to inform others about that incident. For instance, in an accident, you’re required to make a report at the police station. The report can be either verbal or written – mostly verbal as the cops will do all the paper work.

You write a report to inform your fellow colleagues about some  incidents, events or the financial situation in the company you work. Reports are written at the request of the management. If your boss keeps quiet, so do you. In most cases, it is a monthly routine, so you have to do it. 😛

After writing a report, you may be required by the management to present a report in the next meeting. When you present the report, you have to orally summarise what you have reported in writing. Written reports are normally sent to every one after the meeting, so your fellow colleagues do not know what you’ve written until the meeting.

Give me your report!” – your boss commands. Presumably, you have already written it, and you’re required to personally hand it to him soon before your posterior gets  burnt.  So you give a report when you’re forced to do it – something like “write a report” but more urgent.

Sigh, so many reports to  make, write, give and present. 🙂

"with" or without

Someone has just sent me a message and wants to know if this sentence is correct: “I feed the cat with some milk.” One of her colleagues said the preposition “with” should be dropped. This friend of mine argued that having “with” in the sentence is acceptable.

Well, “with” could be used if it is followed by an eating utensil or food. That means, these examples are correct:

  • Foreigners find it strange that some Chinese in Malaysia eat with their fingers. (√)
  • The little boy fed the chick with a syringe. (√)
  • I had rice with curry and some meat. (√)

It is therefore incorrect to say:

  • They fed the boy with fried chicken. (X)
  • My neighbour feeds his chickens with corn each morning. (X)
  • Did you feed the baby with milk though you know he’s allergic to it? (X)

The general rules are as follows

  • [someone] feeds [person/animal] [food]
  • [someone] eats [food] with/and [food]
  •  [someone] eats [food] with [an eating tool/fingers]

I believe there are some exceptions. Care to add? 🙂

British vs. Malaysian English

It’s been a long time since I posted something in this blog. I’ve actually run out of ideas already 🙂 Anyway, someone sent me something humourous recently.

We’ve heard of British vs. American English, but this post is about British vs. Malaysian English (Manglish). Have fun comparing:

British English vs. Malaysian English

(a) WHEN GIVING A CUSTOMER BAD NEWS

Britons:
I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t seem to have the sweater you want in your size, but if you give me a moment, I can call the other outlets for you.

Malaysians:
No stock.

(b) RETURNING A CALL

Britons:
Hello, this is John Smith. Did anyone call for me a few moments ago?

Malaysians:
Hello, who call ah, just now?

(c) ASKING SOMEONE TO MAKE WAY

Britons:
Excuse me, I would like to get by. Would you please make way?

Malaysians:
S-kews, s-kews!

(d) WHEN ASKING FOR PERMISSION

Britons:
Excuse me, but do you think it would be possible for me to enter through this door?

Malaysians:
[pointing at the door] Can enter, ah?

(e) WHEN ENTERTAINING

Britons:
Please make yourself right at home.

Malaysians:
No need shy shy one, lah!

(f) WHEN DOUBTING SOMEONE

Britons:
I don’t recall you giving me the money.

Malaysians:
Where got?

(g) WHEN DECLINING AN OFFER

Britons:
I would prefer not to do that, if you don’t mind.

Malaysians:
Don’t want lah.

(h) WHEN ASKING SOMEONE TO LOWER THEIR VOICE

Britons:
Excuse me, but could you please lower your voice? I’m trying to concentrate over here.

Malaysians:
Shut up, lah!

(i) WHEN ASSESSING A TIGHT SITUATION

Britons:
We seem to be in a bit of a predicament at the moment..

Malaysians:
Die lah!!

(j) WHEN SOMEONE DID SOMETHING WRONG

Britons:
This isn’t the way to do it. Here, let me show you.

Malaysians:
Like that also don’t know how to do!

The conclusion is, Manglish is simple, short, concise but not easy for foreigners to understand 😀

Jewery

What? Jewery? Yup, that’s what I heard a few minutes ago, and that prompted me to post this article.

My office door is now open because there’s no electricity.  Somehow this PC runs on a different electrical line. Right across my room, I could see a group of students discussing a mock meeting. Well, somewhere along their discussion, one of the group members wanted to know the spelling of the word “jewelry” (jewellery), and her friend confidently said: “Jewery? J-E-W-E-R-Y.”  – she was literally spelling the way she pronounced it!!

I blogged about grammar and phonics recently, and now it’s clearly proven that in some cultures, you can’t simply “convert” them into native English speakers, probably never in their lifetime. What the Ministry of Education could do is to start a speech therapy class conducted by local teachers, if they’re really serious about improving pronunciation. You won’t get 100% success rate, but you’d certainly see some improvement. A friend of mine attended a speech therapy class in the U.S. when she was studying there, and it helped her. Nevertheless, she still has problems pronouncing the “l” in “problem”, for instance. It’s all got to do with the interference of the mother tongue.

It’s really noisy – oh, they’re quiet now as it’s time to start that mock meeting with their lecturer.

 

Grammar or phonics?

Our government – to be more specific, the Ministry of Education (MOE) – has a bad habit of changing the way things are done in schools as and when they please without getting input from the grassroots (the teachers). First, we have the ever controversial teaching of Math and Science in English. In a recent report in the papers, the MOE plans to recruit foreign teachers to teach English pronunciation because they want students to pronounce the way native speakers do! Check out a comment made by a Malaysian reader and another comment by a foreign reader in response to the first reader’s comment. Both are against what I call “the blatant ignorance” of officials in the MOE.

It really amazes me and everyone else how those blokes at the top think, if they ever think at all. Who are they trying to please at the expense of our children? Are they really qualified to make decisions in the first place? Tax payers’ money is being utilized to hire 365 foreigners to teach our kids how to say words so that they sound like “mat salleh” or “gwailo“. Get real!! In the Malaysian education context, we learn English in schools  so that we’re able to communicate with others whether in the spoken or the written form. The communicative approach to learning a second language has been used in many Asian countries as well, so what’s so special about Malaysia that requires foreigners to be hired? Besides, we have our own batch of teachers who could speak English well. In fact, many foreigners are surprised that Malaysians could speak good English. We have colleges that teach future teachers how to teach English. Therefore, by hiring foreigners, is the MOE implying that they’re doubtful as to the proficiency of our English teachers? If so, that also means lecturers in teacher training colleges have not been well-trained for the job.

What are the implications of hiring foreigners (no offense to you guys, ok)? First, it’s going to cost a bomb; they are definitely not coming if our government pays them the same salary and get the same perks locals get. Secondly, students who are not used to listening to a foreigner speak English would be intimidated, feel uncomfortable, and end up shying away from speaking. Third, in some cultures, it is rather difficult to say certain letters like “r”, “l” and “w” correctly. Forget about pronouncing the “o” as in “boat” and expressing the distinct “k” as in “like”. It’s really common for our students and adults to say “bot” instead of “boat”, for instance. Don’t the MOE officials know anything about sociolinguistics? Obviously not.

So, what the heck are the objectives of teaching English in schools then? Is it to enable students to speak like a native English speaker a.k.a the Queen’s English variety? If, so, we’re heading the wrong direction. What about grammar then? Don’t you think it’s more critical to be able to construct sentences correctly than to be able to pronounce words like a native speaker?

"of course" vs. "off course"

I was reading an online newspaper this morning when I came across an error which could easily pass as a non-error:

  • And off course i follow one of the guys who created this micro blogging Jack Dorsey.

In the sentence above, the phrase “off course” is wrong.

  • of course – without any doubt, certainly
  • off course – away from the intended direction

Examples:

  1. Of course (certainly) you can go out and play,” mom told us.
  2. The concert begins at eight but you can’t enter without a ticket, of course.
  3. Due to the stormy weather, the plane went off course and crashed into the ocean.
  4. He was a young, bright student, but he went off course and joined a triad later in his early twenties.

Businessmen succeed because they’re persistent, and of course, once they become greedy, they will probably go off course and get themselves into trouble.

Oxymoron (edited)

The word “oxymoron” has nothing to do with stupid people that use Oxy-5 to get rid of their acne. No offense intended. Oxymoron is a figure of speech, and which could be an inadvertent error, too. 🙂

Look at this sentence:

  1. To apply for this job, you need the original copy of your exam transcripts.
  2. You don’t have to bring the unnecessary essentials to the workshop.

Can you spot the error?

Correction:

  1. To apply for this job, you need the original exam transcripts. (√)
    To apply for this job, you need a copy of your exam transcripts. (√)
  2. You don’t have to bring the unnecessary to the workshop. (√)

Therefore, oxymorons are contradictory words or terms. How could a copy of a document be original, for instance? 😀

If you’d like to know more about oxymorons, click here.

NOTE:
Oxymorons are allowed in literary works. So, it’s perfectly alright to say:

  • sweet sorrows
  • deafening silence

p/s:  Thanks to a blogger for pointing out some issues in the first version.

"Wonder" vs. "wander"

I wonder why your mind wanders when there’s so much to be done. Despite the minimal difference in spelling, the meaning is very different.

  • wonder (v.) – a question that you ask because you wish to know something
  • wander (v.) – to walk around without a purpose

(a) wonder

If you ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I ready?
    Will I be a responsible husband?
    Can I earn enough to support my family?

… it shows that you’re wondering if you could make a good husband to provide for your family.

Examples:

  1. Have you ever wondered why it hurts to be divorced?
  2. I wonder if I’d ever change to be a better person.
  3. Every one is wondering about the events that led to our marital problems.

(b) wander

When you wander, you don’t think; you just walk aimlessly and without knowing where you’re going. If your mind wanders, it means your mind is not thinking of anything specific or important. When you daydream, your mind wanders.

Examples:

  1. My mind was wandering at the meeting just now; it was just too boring.
  2. Kids who wander without their parents are likely to be victims of kidnappers.
  3. When I’m alone, my mind wanders and I start recalling the past.

Here’s a song and the lyrics for the word “wander“, and a link to the music.  If you’ve been camping when you were a kid, you might be familiar with the song.  Enjoy! 🙂

The Happy Wanderer (Click here for the music)

I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

Chorus:
Val-deri,Val-dera,
Val-deri,
Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
Val-deri,Val-dera.
My knapsack on my back.

I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
“Come! Join my happy song!”

I wave my hat to all I meet,
And they wave back to me,
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet
From ev’ry green wood tree.

High overhead, the skylarks wing,
They never rest at home
But just like me, they love to sing,
As o’er the world we roam.

Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God’s clear blue sky!

What English is this?

A while ago, as I was browsing the Net, I came across an advertisement for Home Tutors. On the front page, a list of tutors recently registered with the tuition service is shown. I randomly clicked on a name, and I saw this description:

I have finished my degree in Accounting and will further my MBA in UPM.I have teaching experience for primary students during my uni life time. Furthermore, I am a full scholarship holder in my university and responsible to teach the weak students in their studies for 3 years. My education background as below ….. Do you want your children/yourself Study Smart? Just Follow Me, I will lead them/u with caring. I understand the life of being a student, let me share my studies experience with the children. Let them understand: ‘Try the Best, No Regret”.

You know what? This tutor offers English, Math and Malay Language tuition to primary school kids. Now we know why the standard of English amongst our students is deteriorating.  Sad huh?