Webster’s New World dictionary described it as (1) any observable fact or event that can be scientifically described (2) anything very unusual (3) an extraordinary person, prodigy.
I found that the word is used very liberally on the telly. Local productions would slap the word Phenomenon or Fenomena on everything from Mawi to Mat Rempit to just absolutely anything that has never made headlines before.
I don’t claim to be a linguist or an English teacher or a word expert or whatever you call someone who knows a thing or two about languages. Anyway, this is NOT about the usage of the English language. It’s just about the word ‘phenomenon’ which I believe has been grossly overused. I must say I’m a bit uneasy by this light use of the word, which, to my tiny bird brain, is reserved for something more extraordinary and unbelievable than say, a goat running loose in front of KLCC.
The support and adulation towards Mawi (of the Akademi Fantasia fame, if you don’t know already), to my mind, does fit the description. It is unusual that despite the limited vocal ability and the gaudy fashion he sashays in, the public would be so besotted with him and anything or anyone related to him, to the extend of spending hundreds if not thousands of bucks on SMSs, magazines, books, souvenir items and hundreds other nonsensical items simply to indulge in this adulation. Now, that’s a phenomenon!
Mat Rempit, their lifestyle of racing and vice is nothing new. This has been going on since the 80s (or maybe even before that, I’m not sure), although perhaps on a slightly smaller scale. So, I wouldn’t say they are an unusual lot. A nuisance, yes, but unusual, hardly. And I don’t suppose anyone can actually give a comprehensible scientific explanation on the matter either. As far as I’m concerned, Mat Rempit is just another bothersome culture, NOT a phenomenon.
Yesterday, I heard the word being uttered on a certain TV show to describe the trend of women marrying later in life (or not at all) instead of at the prime age. Is this so unusual? In today’s society, it is not uncommon to see a woman being a high-powered executive or highly skilled professional or successful entrepreneur or world-class adventurer. And amongst all these women, some may choose not to go down the marital path just yet, or at all. It is their choice and their right. And it’s no big deal.
So, to hear the TV presenter say something like, “Fenomena wanita berkerjaya tidak mahu berkahwin amat dipandang serius…” make me cringe. Let’s not go into the pros and cons of being married or the merit of a woman’s choice not to marry. I have no wish to write a 10000 word thesis, which is what this would turn to if I go on about that. Let’s just focus on the ‘phenomenal’ aspect of the so-called trend. Is it apt? Why is it so unusual? Is there a scientific explanation to be had? How is it extraordinary? Unmarried women, a phenomenon? I DON’T GET IT!!
But then again, I have just discovered that Kamus Dewan (1989 edition is all I have) described Fenomena as “sesuatu kenyataan (kejadian dan sbgnya) yg dilihat atau boleh dilihat”.
Hmmmmph? So I’m wrong meh?
Guess I have nothing further to say. Now, excuse me while I log off in order to menangani fenomena semut menghurung cawan tak di basuh in my kitchen.
Monday, November 13, 2006