‘Circum’ – ‘Scum’: Small Difference?

“My husband cannot come to kenduri because in our kampung, we have scum session,” said this gentle lady I was giving a lift to. She was very helpful to our family in the last few days as she had been assisting with the housework. She explained that she needed to return home early because her niece was getting married in the evening and she wanted to attend the festivities at the ‘kenduri’.

I smiled politely even though I had no clue what she was saying. In those split seconds before she next spoke, I wondered what she meant by ‘scum session’. Did it have something to do with rugby? It couldn’t be because the word used in the game was more likely to be scrum. Besides, a kampung person who managed a paddy field in the outskirts of Alor Setar was more likely to play sepak takraw than rugby.

Could it be a ‘gotong royong’ session? A community-based activity where all the villagers were getting together to clean the place?

“You know,” she spoke again, “scum session. Orang Melayu kata sunat.

I quickly glanced out the window. I didn’t want her to see my smile and feel hurt. What she’d meant to say was that she had to leave early and her husband couldn’t accompany her to the wedding feast because he was involved in the circumcision ceremony of several young boys in the kampung.

Later in the day, it got me thinking about where we should go to learn how to say something correctly. In the time of dot i.e. when I was born and growing up, we turned to the dictionary to discover anything at all about words. We looked at it to find the definition for a word, how to use that word correctly or even how to pronounce it.

Take a word like ‘albeit’. A friend insists that it’s pronounced as ‘al-bight’ although I’ve always thought it should be ‘all-be-it’. Out comes our trusty dictionary. The first step is to find the word. Here’s an image of the one in ours: albeitThen I look at the specific part that teaches you how to pronounce that particular word.


Cross-reference this with the information provided on the page called ‘Pronunciation Symbols’ located at the front of the dictionary.


There you have it – albeit should be pronounced ‘all-be-it’.

Now, in the modern world, all you need to do is ask God, i.e. Google. And here’s a link that will not only give you a definition, but also lets you hear what the word sounds like:



Aneeta Sundararaj created and developed her website, howtotellagreatstory.com. Every day, she learns something new about storytelling.

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