Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pursue PhD at 74 By Ow Tuck Soon

To be a PhD student at the age of 74 maybe unthinkable for most people but to me it’s very satisfying. Age and calamity has never been a barrier to my education. During the World War II, there was a brief interruption to my studies but I went on to pursue my degree in BBA studies at RMIT, Melbourne Australia. Then later around the age of 50 I did my Masters, again at overseas. This time at the prestigious Henley Management College, UK. Now after my quest around the world in search of quality education, I come back a full circle to Malaysia – Open University Malaysia for my PhD.

The field of my PhD study? The very intriguing area of Strategy Turnaround. This topic is indeed very applicable especially in the Malaysian context where we are facing times of crisis like the rise in petrol prices. How do we cope with these crisis and turn them around for our benefit? Indeed I’m glad that OUM offers such a unique subject for my research. My only problem now is the very short deadlines. My paper is purely research and keeping up deadlines is very difficult. However, I appreciate the staff at the Centre for Graduate Studies who are generally sociable and friendly.

Currently, I am teaching part-time at various colleges in Klang Valley. Prior to teaching, I have worked for about 40 years in a number of multinational companies like Coopers and Price-Waterhouse. I’m very proud to say that I have both working experience and academic qualifications – theory and practice – something which is quite uncommon these days. I’m also very happy to share my vast experience with my young students. Since my background is in accounting, I teach management and accounting related subjects in overseas university programmes.

What are my objectives to pursue my PhD? Basically I have three objectives:

* To prove to myself that at my age it is never too late to learn.

* To prove to the younger generation that learning is never too late. In fact, I tell all my students that I’m currently pursuing my PhD. The journey of learning will never end.

* As a teacher, my role is to bridge theory with practice. There is a saying, “theory without practice is empty, and practice without theory is blind......”

In order to be a good student, one needs to have a good time management. In my case, to find time to do assignments. Another important requirement is to enjoy reading. Often, I will use the resources at OUM’s digital library and e-learning platform. I also very much enjoy the lively seminars here.

Balancing time is crucial as a working learner. I have to travel quite far from my home at Petaling Jaya to the college and prepare all the materials as a lecturer of a higher institution. In terms of family, I have only one son who is now working in the US as an engineer. Yet in spite of it all I do not regret doing my PhD because it provides me with a feeling of self-satisfaction.

Source: OUM Learner Connexxion (August 2008 Issue)

Friday, August 8, 2008

You say ‘tomahto’ and I say ‘tomayto’ - Star

You say ‘tomahto’ and I say ‘tomayto’

Aug 8, 2008 By Dr LIM CHIN LAM

ENGLISH is used in many countries — originally Britain, then the countries that started off as colonies, dominions, and protectorates of Britain. It is now used, to varying extents and to various degrees of proficiency, in the rest of the world.

The native English-speaking countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and those in which English is used to a large extent (India, Malaysia, Fiji, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, etc.) each have their brand of English. Even then, these different Englishes are generally intelligible to the users of English at large.

But are they?

Let us look at British English (BrE) and American English (AmE, specifically North American English), the two most widely used kinds of English. The English spoken in other countries generally follows BrE or AmE — but with its own peculiarities. In Malaysia, the English we use is of the British variety.

BrE and AmE differ in many areas which I can but try to classify and summarise, with limited examples, within the constraints of this column.

Same words, different pronunciations

The word herb is pronounced HERB in BrE but ERB in AmE.

Other examples: chance (CHAHNS/CHENS – the same difference in vowel sound also in class, command, dance, grass, past); fertile (FERTYL/FERTL); consortium (KONSORTIEM/KONSORSHIUM); route (ROOT/ROWT), schedule (SHEDIUL/SKEDIUL); and so on.

Same words, difference in spelling

Nowadays, the ligatures “æ” and “?” are rarely encountered. BrE tends to separate out the conjoined vowels in print while AmE reduces them to the single letter ‘e’.

Examples: anaemia/anemia, diarrhoea/diarrhea, encyclopaedia/encyclopedia, foetus/fetus, oedema/edema.

Furthermore, AmE tends to differ from BrE in the following ways.

· dropping silent vowels [axe/ax, acknowledgement/acknowledgment, furore/furor/]

· dropping a vowel from a digraph [caulk/calk; gauge/gage, mould/mold]

· reducing doubled consonants to a single consonant [waggon/wagon]

· trimming off unsounded letter clusters [dialogue/dialog, programme/program — except that both BrE and AmE use program to refer to computer software]

· adding, for words ending in an unstressed syllable with a terminal ‘l’, a suffix beginning with a vowel without doubling the final ‘l’ [travelled/traveled, counselling/counseling, medallist/medalist, councillor/councilor, marvellous/marvelous. Note, however, that in words such as compel and propel, where the last syllable is stressed, the BrE-styled compelled and propellant also apply in AmE.]

· choosing –or over –our [colour/color, odour/odor].

Yet, against its common practice of trimming off vowels and consonants, AmE actually adds on a consonant by doubling it in such words as enrol/enroll, enrolment/enrollment, instil/instill, and skilful/skillful.

Other differences are in respect of deletion of vowels [caulk/calk, gauntlet/gantlet]; word-ending –ce/se [defence/defense; pretence/pretense]; and verb suffix –ise/-ize [BrE accepts both, e.g. realise and realize, but AmE normally admits only the –ize suffix; furthermore, AmE extends the –z- ending to words not formed with the original Greek verb suffix –izein, e.g. analyze (BrE analyse), paralyze (BrE paralyse) and advertize (BrE advertise); and differentiation between noun and verb [BrE noun practice, verb practise but AmE noun and verb practice; similarly BrE licence (noun) and license (verb) as against AmE license (noun, verb) — but advice (noun) and advise (verb) and device (noun) and devise (verb) are differentiated in AmE, as in BrE)].

And still there are other differences: -que/-ck [cheque/check, racquet/racket]; ph/f [sulphate/sulfate, draught/draft], -re/-er [centre/center, theatre/theater, manoeuvre/maneuver, calibre/caliber, fibre/fiber]; and a miscellaneous group of one-offs [aluminium/aluminum, candidature/candidacy, jewellery/jewelry, kerb/curb, ketchup/catsup, sceptical/skeptical, storey/story].

Same words, different meanings

Some BrE words seem to have acquired a different meaning after crossing the Atlantic Ocean. For example, dumb means “mute” in Britain but “stupid” in the U.S. The word mad means “insane” in Britain but “very angry, furious” in the U.S.

Homely, meaning “simple and ordinary” in BrE, becomes a disparaging attribute in AmE where it means “unattractive”. The adjective nuts, used predicatively (Are you nuts?), apparently does not exist in Britain but it means “crazy” in AmE.

Different words, same meaning

Americanisms include the use of words different from those used in British English.

For example, in AmE, funny = odd/peculiar, mad = angry, and nuts = mad/crazy. The Americans can be funny (i.e. odd). They can make you mad (i.e. angry) or drive you nuts (i.e. crazy).

Because different words are used for the same things on either side of the Atlantic — and are likely to cause confusion — I take the trouble to put up a longer-than-usual list of examples, as follows:

aerial (BrE) = antenna (AmE),

brinjal = eggplant,

barrister/solicitor = attorney/lawyer,

bill (e.g. for restaurant meal) = check,

boot (of car) = trunk,

conscription = draft,

crossroads = intersection,

counterfeit/false = fake/phoney,

flyover = overpass,

full-stop = period,

fuss = hassle,

groundnut = peanut,

joking = kidding,

leave (of absence) = furlough,

letter-box = mailbox,

maize = corn,

pavement = sidewalk,

petrol = gasoline,

post-mortem = autopsy,

prison = penitentiary,

ragging = hazing,

refuse/rubbish/waste = garbage/trash,

tap = faucet,

taxi (from “taxicab”) = cab (from “taxicab”),

toilet = lavatory/restroom,

torchlight = flashlight,

truant (play truant) = hooky (play hooky),

wrecked (as of a car in an accident) = totaled.

Is that all?

I have thus far covered — adequately, I hope — BrE and AmE differences in words as they are pronounced, as spelt, and as differing in meaning. But the divide between BrE and AmE is not only in words. I shall cover other aspects in a future article.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Varsities to get billions for fundamental research - NST

PUTRAJAYA: Aug 7, 2008 By Hamidah Atan

The government has set aside billions in Ninth Malaysia Plan allocations for fundamental research by local universities.
The Higher Education Ministry has given out RM239 million to be spent on specific and relevant researches, while the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry has allocated RM1.2 billion and RM1.5 billion for the science and technology funds respectively.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin yesterday said "whatever it is, the research must be relevant to industrial needs, knowledge and current needs".

"We want all universities to upgrade or enhance research and development in all areas, such as natural gas or energy.

"One of the criteria they must consider is the relevance of the project or research to the industries. Fundamental and energy crisis researches are already being carried out in most of the universities in collaborations with private companies such as Proton Holdings Bhd and Petronas Bhd.

"Research on solar energy is being actively undertaken by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. All these are relevant to the current energy crisis we are facing," he told a press conference to explain the progress report of the national higher education strategic plan for the period between August 2007 and June 2008.

The strategic plan was launched last year by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Under the plan's third thrust, enhancement of research and innovation, four universities -- Universiti Malaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia -- have been recognised as research universities.

On the enrolment for both public and local universities and colleges, Khaled said the number had increased by 13.3 per cent, from 748,130 in 2006 to 847,485 last year.

He also revealed an increase in the number of National Higher Education Corporation (PTPTN) loan borrowers from 949,527 in 2006 to 1,110,091 last year.

Borrowers paid back a total of RM294,754,200 last year, against RM192,499,700 in 2006. Since early this year, a total of RM87,886,400 had been collected.

Khaled also said he would announce the new service fee on PTPTN loans next week. The charge at present is three per cent of the loan amount.