CLOSE

Speak no evil

As you've probably been following over the last years, there have been a lot of complaints in Singapore over the youngins' excessive use of Singlish.

Likewise, Manglish is now under attack in Malaysia, only the Malaysian government is a lot more serious about stamping out the colloquial wordshake: two parts local dialects, one part English.

According to an article last week in the International Herald Tribune, "Malaysia may levy fines on people who mangle the national language on signs and posters, and deploy monitors to ensure that speakers at official functions don't improperly mix Malay with English."

Look out! They're talking about 1,000-ringgit fines (that's $271 to you and me). In other words: they mean business. Just to give you an idea of what else is forbidden in Malaysia, I did a little poking around online and came up with this nifty list:

Sodomy, spitting, littering, blowing your nose in public and any kind of sports betting (except horse racing!): all illegal. It's also strictly forbidden to publish any materials that may incite religious anger. "Pure English," it should be noted, will continue to be permitted in Malaysia, although good luck to the monitors in defining such.

After the jump, you'll find some of my favorite Manglish words/expression -- those the government is trying to root out -- which I've edited together from a couple different sources, but mostly from Wiki:

kapster - a nosy or talkative person; can be also used as an adjective, e.g., "I hate them because they are so kapster." Contraction of the Malay verb "cakap", to speak, plus -ster (probably from analogy with English words such as "trickster").

maluation - embarrassment, from Malay "malu" + English "-ation"

outstation - out of town (e.g., going outstation).

terrer - (pronounced as the English "terror") Refers to someone or something being awesomely amazing or good (e.g., "Bloody hell, that guy is terrer!").

slumber - relaxed, laid-back; possibly a conflation of the Malay "selamba", meaning nonchalant, and the English "slumber".

on/off - to turn something on or off, respectively (e.g. "Don't forget to off the fan.")

tumpang-ing - riding in someone else's vehicle or lodging at someone else's house, from the Malay verb "tumpang" + "-ing"

(any Malay word) + "ing" - doing a certain action ("Tengah makan" or "I'm eating right now" is shortened to "Makan-ing")

best/syok - indicates the object as superlatively good.

die/finish/gone/habis/mampus/mampui/sei - generic exclamations to indicate "trouble", used like the English "damn it" or "to face the music" (e.g. Today he die because of that loan shark). "sei" is usually pronounced as its Cantonese equivalent, "die".

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
iStock
iStock

Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
iStock
iStock

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios