• Selena Thian

A Malaysian Author's A to Z Compilation of Lexicons


Malachi Vethamani shares insightful commentary in his latest project. Credit: Chris Cheong / The Star News Online

For the past couple of weeks, whenever you turn on your TV, all you can see and hear about are news on 'pandemic', 'social distancing', 'Restricted Movement Order', and those alike.


It's rare to see such terms being constantly repeated before the outbreak of COVID-19; from newspapers to radio channels to news websites, words such as lockdown or quarantine rarely appears with such urgency. Today, however, these words have a stronger significance and usage due to the ongoing situation and many have conjured different images and perspectives whenever the terms are used.


With all these new terminology being bombarded to the public by the media, it's common for confusions and uncertainties to arise. The problem was noticed by a particular individual, Malachi Edwin Vethamani, who is a professor who teaches modern English Literature at the School of English in University of Nottingham Malaysia.


Vethamani, who also writes books and poems, expressed his concern over how many of the words have started to gain new meanings in the community after frequent usage by the media and also various different messages being circulated around.


"I became very aware that we were being bombarded with many new words during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic," said the Malaysian author in a recent interview.


"I wanted to create awareness, educate and also present these words, often in a humourous way so the readers could connect with them."

Vethamani took it upon himself to highlight and educate the public in a simple, straightforward and entertaining way through a compilation of user-friendly lexicons that covered some of the common words during this pandemic.


The compilation is a rather insightful collection of definitions that perfectly captured the mood of the troubled times and overall people's feelings. Many of his definitions often are paired with a side of social commentary while some are inspired by current affairs and events from all around the world.

A preview of Vethamani's project.

A particular entry that Vethamani feels strongly about is his message on 'front-liners'. The professor explained that many do not seem to realise the heavy responsibility that these individuals have to deal with and the risks they are putting themselves in for the public's sake.


"It's a word that is taken for granted and skimmed over." Vethamani noted.

Currently, the professor's academic life has been affected by the situation as universities have been ordered to close down for the remaining period of the MCO. Vethamani has been staying home and preparing new things during his time indoors such as helpful online lectures and also communicating with students online.


"I hope we can all be responsible and follow the regulations," says the professor. "Let's keep our morale high and stay safe."


To read Vethamani's project, titled 'My Coronavirus Lexicon', you can visit his official Facebook page where the project has been posted on March 24.


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