Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I have quite passively observed the utter lack of good vocabulary in the English language on the internet especially by the younger generation. Never mind the ROTFL, LMHO, LOL which are the mild ones newly coined. The use of such short forms such as SNAFU, SUSFU, FUBAR, TARFU and BOHICA ( Google the words) were first used in radio messages by the US Marine Corps. Such army derived words are not common on the internet but they have come up with their new ones which can be worse - also from the USA.

Coming to Malaysia today, prowess in the English language is severely lacking even among graduates of English studies. It is more obvious when someone wants to post something in an angered mode. Expletives and abusive (obloquy) words are often used irrespective of where it is done and to whom it is addressed. Such things can reflect badly on oneself and his/her parental background too.

                                               The tongue is the most powerful weapon one can have

The Facebook and blogs are in a sense private space but yet public really and so are the comments posted therein. There are more “polite ways” of saying someone is a bastard for instance. It is of course more expedient than saying that he/she is “of dubious parental background” for instance. The now universal four letter word representing human excrement is another word in common usage. It could be from the western movies and/or TV influences. I do not know but it has now found its way into Tamil movies too lately.
          Some of my earliest "friends" greeting one another with reference to their mother's you know what

When I was teaching English in secondary schools in the 60’s and 70’s, all my students had to have a separate exercise book for vocabulary. Periodic surprise checks were done to ensure that assigned readings of story books for the term was being done. Difficult words had to be recorded in this book with the meanings taken from the dictionary complete with the book title and page number cited. In this way there was some sort of continual learning of new words from independent readings as well as from the prescribed literature books. This of course helped my students to expand their vocabulary. Extra marks and praise was given to those who also listed synonyms and antonyms in their vocabulary books….such was the case of teaching and learning the English language when Malaysians spoke better Queen’s English than the British themselves.

                                                  This sign can be posted in schools for starters.

Anyway, all that I am saying is that the continued and handicapped use of the English language might be okay among close friends but not in public?? Even I use curse words sometimes depending on where and with whom I am. And, let me tell you this, I have an awesome collection of such “bad” words, expletives and in all the three major languages in Malaysia. But that does not mean I have to use them in public. Some self-control in these matters is absolutely necessary.  In this matter, I first learnt some real "brutal" words by observing my Chinese friends greeting one another in Chinese ....words that would make even a marine blush.

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