shaolin and wudang

So the annual Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results were released last Friday. As expected, there was an explosion of PSLE and secondary school selection threads on the KiasuParents forum. Read some of them today, and this really amused me……

Someone, on choosing between Dunman High and Raffles Girls':

This is an easy one to me.

R.G.S

Being a Rafflesian is one of the best things that you can get as a Singaporean student. The only other comparable one is to be a HwaChongian. They are like the Shaolin and Wudang in Singapore’s education system.

from here

a rose by any other name

I was fact-checking a local medical history piece, contributed by one of my writers, a couple of months ago when I stumbled upon this 16-year-old news article, which may prove instructive with regard to the Angsana Primary naming issue. I quote (and I do find this portion particularly incisive):

What is needed is not a clinging to historic names but someone to trace their history and evolution, and explain the changes in the context of the social and political developments that they mark. For example, what we know as Fort Canning Park, was once a real fort, called Fort Canning and named after the first viceroy of India.

Before Stamford Raffles annexed Singapore for the British, it was known as Bukit Larangan, or Forbidden Hill, the home and burial grounds of ancient Malay kings. Who knows what it was called before that?

Now, if Singaporean leaders of the 21st century should change the hill’s name to Lee Kuan Yew Park, to honour the man who led the country to independence, would it rob Fort Canning of its history?

Of course not. A place’s current name is like an onion skin. Peel it away and another name, another story lies below.

Continue reading ‘a rose by any other name’

what’s in a name?

I have always been interested in the linguistics of names, and this issue naturally piqued my interest……

Griffiths and Qiaonan alumni upset over new name for merged school – Angsana Primary
Qiaonan and Griffiths hold plenty of history and memories for former staff and pupils

By Pearl Lee And Ho Ai Li

What’s in a name?

Plenty of history and memories, say former staff and pupils of Griffiths Primary School and Qiaonan Primary.

They are upset that the two pioneer schools, which together have been around for 145 years, will be merged to form Angsana Primary School – a name with little connection to its predecessors.

“Why Angsana? Why not something like Griffiths-Qiaonan?” asked 86-year-old Eunice Tan Khe Tong, a retired principal, who was there for Griffiths Primary School at its start, and its end.

Continue reading ‘what’s in a name?’

you learn something new every day

Oxford Dictionaries has selected vape as Word of the Year. I had never encountered this term before so I wondered what on earth it was about! Perhaps it has been a pretty big word in the Anglosphere? Apparently it is a verb which means to ‘inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device‘!

I also came across this rather amusing article from Yahoo Tech. I quote, ‘In 2014, Oxford Online’s Word of the Year was “vape.” In 2013, it was “selfie.” In 2012, it was “GIF.” In that spirit, here are 13 vape selfie GIFs. Hooray, English language!’

you learn something new every day

Recently stumbled onto the verb animadvert, which is a really formal way of saying ‘to criticize’.

you learn something new every day

Recently found out that embonpoint could be used as a (high-sounding) synonym for a woman’s bosom! It originated from the French phrase en bon point, or ‘in good condition’. (The first example sentence given by Oxford Dictionary is rather hilarious: ‘the lady of a certain age and uncertain embonpoint wore strapless black lace kept up by sheer determination’!) When I first encountered this word, I thought it was some sort of needlework!

words to live by

A story to keep in mind always……

Two Monks and a Woman

A senior monk and a junior monk were travelling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.

The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.

Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his 
journey.

Continue reading ‘words to live by’

you learn something new every day

Carrie: Have you ever been in love?
Mr Big: Abso-fuckin-lutely!

(Sex and the City, season 1, episode 1)

Recently learnt that words separated by words, like abso-fuckin-lutely, are actually called tmesis!

words to live by

Something I stumbled upon a couple of days ago:

‘What Susie says of Sally says more about Susie than Sally.’

do not stand at my grave and weep

Somehow this poem brought a tear to my eye (read more about it here and here)……

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I did not die.

maturity

Terminated my first fixed deposit, from OCBC, way back in July. My second one, from DBS, finally matured today, after six months! Earned the princely sum of $69.95!!! :D

you learn something new every day

Was recently googling to find out the etymology of the Chinese idiom ‘马后炮‘ (ma hou pao, or ‘cannon behind horse’), when I stumbled onto this old discussion on a local forum. Someone wanted to know how to translate that Chinese idiom into English, and someone else suggested ‘Monday morning quarterback‘. I had never heard this term before, and after checking it out, I concluded it summed up the essence of ‘cannon behind horse’ perfectly! :D

you learn something new every day

Came across an article on an interesting psychological phenomenon, pareidolia, today.

another level of enlightenment

El Lobo Loco, who blogs at Singapore2b, on Singaporeans who want a slower pace of life……

They want a slower pace of growth and development, but they do not quite understand what that means. Or rather they SAY they want a slower pace, when what they actually want is contradictory or even illogical.

What do you mean by slower? Train runs every 15 minutes instead of every 2 minutes during peak hour? Then no. Banks only open from 9 am to 3 pm Mon to Fri only like in many developed countries? No. Shops open 9 am to 6 pm Mon to Fri, and 10 am to 2 pm on Sat and closed on Sun? No. Slower development? HDB flats waiting period to stretch to 6 years? NO! Or what did you mean by slower pace? Wait 30 minutes to get served in a restaurant? Walk to the McDonald’s 2 km away because you can get there in 30 minutes, and the feeder bus only comes every hour?

from here

I never saw this issue in this way before, and find that his analysis makes a lot of sense. I suppose when people say they want a slower pace of life, they usually mean themselves, not others. ;)

 

the grammar of a dinner

After lunch this afternoon, I returned to the office and somehow suddenly recalled this poem, by late Singaporean poet Arthur Yap. (A nice post about him can be found here.)

the grammar of a dinner

let’s have chicken for dinner.

somewhere else, someone else utters:
let’s have john for dinner.
we are alarmed by the latter
but a dinner, too, has its own grammar
& we are assured by grammarians
both utterances are in order.

john, + animate, + human,
couldn’t be passed off as repast.
chicken is + animate, – human,
& can end up in any oven.
if we combine the items of grammar
the way things in cooking are,
we would then have:
let’s have chicken for john for dinner,
let’s have chicken for dinner for john,
let’s have for john chicken for dinner,
let’s have for dinner for john chicken;
but probably not:
let’s have john for chicken for dinner,
let’s have for dinner john for chicken.

john is a noun holding knife & fork.
chicken collocates with the verb eat.
grammarians favour such words
as delicious & john eats happily,
but in a gastronomic dinner
taxonomic john isn’t to eat deliciously.


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