Tuesday, 3 February 2009

High what?

Did you notice something lately? Perhaps not lately, this new phenomena has been happening for a few years now. A classic example of this phenomenon is when you see an uploaded picture of boys in white shirt and dark blue pants or girls in pinafore and they labelled the photo as…

“My high school days” or “Me and my high school mates”

I don’t know about you but to me, “high school” is not the right term to refer Form 1 to Form 5. I have never referred to any of my school friends as “high school mates”. Based on my possibly out-dated understanding, schools for Standard 1 to Standard 6 are categorised as “Primary school” and those for Form 1 to Form 5 are categorised as “Secondary school”.

Unless one’s school’s name has got “high school” in it, such as Catholic High School, there isn’t exactly this thing called “high school” in Malaysia. Even that, it is still debatable as school name and schooling system are 2 separate elements.

So what exactly is “high school”? It is actually part of the school system in the US. I understand from my friends in the States that their schooling system mainly made up of:-

Elementary School (Kindergarten to 5th grade / age 5 – 11)
Middle School (6th to 8th grade / age 12 – 14)
High School (9th to 12th grade / age 15 – 18)

Here in Malaysia, we do not have “middle school” or “low school” and certainly, we do not have “high school”. What we have is primary and secondary school. Why then more and more people are referring to secondary school as “high school”?

A very good friend of mine said… “It is the westernised thinkers who refer to it, without basis, as high school”. I tend to agree. What about you?

At this juncture, some of you may say…”Zewt, what’s the fuss? It means the same thing”.

I will have to ask… do these “high school people” use that term to sincerely refer to the same thing or do they use as that term sounds more western… more cool? Besides, how are you going to refer to your first year in “high school”? 9th grade, or Form 1?


1 year ago…
What’s with the awareness fuss?when our instincts fail

2 years ago…
The tail to the tales

41 comments:

Terra Shield said...

Form 6 :p

JustinKC said...

high school terms for me should be secondary school le. While im studying in NZ, they use high school instead of secondary school.

Fassus said...

I think it's more like what you said... westernised people use it. But more and more people use it, and when your peers use it, you will too.

HuntressMoon said...

smk seapark!!! i call mine gangster school

TSM said...

hmm... i do use the term high school... and i think i was using it without basis.. hahaha.. just heard stuff from tv..and used it.. but i used it for the purpose to describe secondary school.. what's there to show off about by using the word high school? u sound cooler? hell no... hehhe

Winn said...

in chinese / mandarin they refer sec sch as 'kau zhong'...thats why?

CiNDi said...

I use the term high school because after awhile I find it hard to enunciate secondary school.

High school = 2 syllables

Secondary School = 5 syllables.

Have u ever tried making a speech of urself when they asked which school you attended, for a lot of times?

I've been saying "secondary school" to my friends until I said "fuck it la. I'm gonna say high school"

But I still refer the lower secondary level as form 1,2,3.

Only form 4 and 5 experience constitutes to my high school term =D.

Sorry ah like spamming only.

rainbow angeles said...

LOL! and the worst thing alotta translators would do when it comes to "high school" is to translate it as "sekolah tinggi".. so i ask them, bila malaysia ada sekolah tinggi, huh huh HUH??? :P

and u r right man.. high what high??? :P

missironic said...

In melaka there's really a school called High School. Well, in full is called Malacca High School, but we refer to there as High School. So when my frens said there are their high school friends means correct la! hahaha...

I tend to use high school friends too probably bcoz it is easy to say it out than secondary school friends. High school sounds much simpler although technically, we dun have a High School here. Neway, u did broach a subject which i never tot of. And I still refer to my 1st year as Form 1 and so on. hahaha....

littlepolaris said...

The thing is, u tell the angmohs secondary school, they won't understand. So just continue to use high school term lor. I prefer to mention my school name. =D

k u k u j i o a m a n said...

secondary school!!!! totaly agree with zewt!!

Alex Yap said...

agree with littlepolaris

if we talked to westerner, we need to use high school term else they won't understand. it really depends to the group of audiences.

anyway, zewt, thanx for the info. Ohh.. sodesneh ..

iamthewitch said...

Zewt thanks for the enlightenment! Seriously I had no idea that High School referred to 9th grade onwards in the US. I always thought they were the same! Now I know better. :)

Anonymous said...

wei, it muz b my comment in the last post isnt it

my school name memang got 'high school' in it ler, v got Junior 123, n then Senior 123 one....

so WINN, sec sch have 'chu zhong' and 'kau zhong', not oni 'kau zhong' ok?

well, i can do Form5 maths edi with my Senior 1 syllabus..dun hate me bcoz im 'high' pls heheheee

anyway, dis sort of thing happen when u apply foreign language into local scene.....being accurate/specific memang hard 4 confused human in dis globalised world, sigh

Huei said...

errr...i think i say secondary

actually i say year 7, year 8...n so on

international school ma..that's how they call it! =P but when i tell local people..i'll have to calculate it in "form" =P

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

yeah i suppose high school seemed almost like a normal term for me..which refers to secondary school..

the worse is how we say year 7,8,9,10 n so on at my school..so ppl will scratch head bcoz they r used to form 1,2,3,4,5..

Siew said...

My sentiments exactly!

Life for Beginners said...

Well, I came from Malacca High School so we're just used to saying that we came from High School... :P

Kimmy said...

I generally use the term lower secondary( schoolForm 1 - Form 3) and upper secondary school(Form 4 - Form 6) :) But only when I'm in the states, I would refer my upper secondary as high school so that they had a better understanding what 'upper/lower' secondary meant.

taxy said...

How do you tell someone you're from a convent and have any "cool" left for your dignity?

Purple~MushRooM said...

To me, they are the same, just different terms are being used. Our lower secondary means middle school and higher secondary means high school. Same with our chinese schools which use 'chu zhong' and 'gao zhong'. I would understand it no matter which term a person uses.

Jun said...

well, i went to a high school (not catholic tho ;p), but i use the term Form X... "high school" sounds more american while "secondary school" sounds more british, and i think a lot of ppl these days are influenced more by the americans than the brits, hence the americanised terms. lotsa ppl use the americanised way of spelling too, so i dun think it matters tht much which terms u use as long as the other person understands wat u're saying..

CK said...

exacto mundo!!!!!!!!!
i will say my secondary school mates.

another thing, some like to refer their school as KK High, Muar High or Malacca High.... i mean... wat hai?

ven said...

I used quite a bit of 'high school' when talking with friends but don't really think much about it actually. Well, for righteous sake, I was from a school with a "high" in the name.

jlshyang said...

i use 'free school' cos i'm from penang free school. lol. nolah, i tend to use high school alot of foreigners don't get it when i mention secondary school. i guess it's just a matter of convenience since it's pretty similar, high school, secondary school. whichever la. hahaha

Yvonne Foong said...

U.S. high chool is equivalent to our form 6 right? That would make our secondary schools their middle schools, right?

Freethinker said...

I do it sometimes myself...

It doesnt have to ..wif specific intentions..

zewt said...

terra shield - so form 5 is middle school?

JustinKC - well, here is not NZ right?

Fassus - some of my peers use it (non-secondary school peers) but i choose not to.

HuntressMoon - eh... got read the post or not ah?

TSM - i thought who was this TSM... well, then why not use secondary school le?

Winn - so... high middle ah?

zewt said...

CiNDi - becos easier to say it... wooah... a bit lame right?

rainbow angeles - haha... sekolah menengah... tecnically... middle school eh?

missironic - then do u spell cheque as cheque or check? since check is shorter and easier to write...

littlepolaris - the ang moh doesnt understand a lot of thigs, u just have to explain to them lor.

kukujiaoman - high 5!

Alex Yap - haha... explain to them lor. they have to use our term if they want to understand our culture right?

iamthewitch - my pleasure :)

zewt said...

anon @ 4/2 1.46pm - if your school has got a high school in it, then it's quite ok ler. well, must still preserve our uniqueness right? secondary!

huei - ahh... international school... that's different. so rich lah u

constantly craving joe - year 7, 8, 9... wow... they really go the distance to feel western, dont they?

siew - :0)

life for beginners - in that case... exception for u :)

Kimmy - if you are in the states then ok lah... but if you are still here... why lah go high school?

taxy - convent IS cool :P

zewt said...

purple mushroom - but they use high school to refer to the period between form 1 and form 5... so how leh?

Jun - i cant imagine myself spelling things like... racket and check instead of racquet and cheque... sigh.

CK - hahaha... what hai! hahaha...

Ven - forgiven then :P

jlshyang - you went to england right? i am surprise they dont get secondary school since it's a british term... i think.

Yvonne Foong - something like that. but dont think i want to call it middle school.

freethinker - haha... if pure innocence... then ok lah.

TSM said...

haha.. i didnt leave message here for too long edi.. hmm, i dunno i was educated that way since my 'high' school times.. hehehe

missironic said...

If for formal procedures, then it's cheque. If for non-formal one, then check also can. it's either or.. hahaha... :)

kyh said...

In Penang they have Chung Ling High School blablabla. Haha!

But I still prefer secondary school. And British spelling system anytime!

narrowband said...

Interesting topic. Noticed this long time ago. I was reluctant to use the term 'high school' also but then after a while you'll get used to it. It's just the American way of saying the same thing. Honestly, these days I stick to just 'school' or ex-schoolmates. I drop the 'high' or 'sec' altogether.

zewt said...

TSM - excuse...

missironic - hahaha... like that also can.

kyh - and that is the correct way for us...

narrowband - that will do i guess... school mates... sign of old age mate... :)

pervertism101.com said...

I just use the word high school because its not as mouthful as secondary school.

Not because its more cool tho.

Binn said...

what is think its like some people love to use the word bucks instead of ringgit... so actually maybe they are trying to blend into the american way?? i dont know... but normally i will stay to ringgit and secondary instead..

zewt said...

pervertism101 - hahahaha... it's a matter of getting used to it...

Binn - good choice... good choice...

kat said...

Hahahaha @ you and angeles - ya lah, high what high?!

A bit off topic here, but I can't help thinking about not only certain references, but also the whole accent thing. And how angmohs can't seem to understand if you don't speak like them.

I have observed many non-native English speakers here speaking English, and I think it is charming the way they speak in their accented English. Kinda like our Manglish, you have the French speaking in French-accented English, the Indians in the Indian-accented English, the Italians in their Italian accents, and so on and so forth. And most will use terms that are common to them. It's just a matter of getting used to the way they speak. Besides, if you are familiar with English, you'd get a gist of what the other person is trying to say even if the grammar is a bit off. I mean, I don't need to go round telling other people to say 'lah' and 'wan' just so I can understand them better! (don't underestimate the power of 'lah' - to a fellow msian, it can convey many meanings with minimal words, but is totally lost when you try to persuade the pakistani security guard to get the maintenance ppl to come fix your lights at an agreed hour!!)

I don't see why we should speak like angmohs and use their terms. Even in angmoh news channels, whenever a non-native English speaker is interviewed, namely Asians, there will be subtitles even though the person interviewed is speaking in grammatically-correct English. Which sounds perfectly clear to me! To me, it just demonstrates your ignorance about the rest of the world!

Reminds of this joke abt Ah Beng student and British immigration (we all know how thorough they can be when they question you at the gate).
Immi officer 1: These Msian students - almost all of them come here to study law.
Officer 2: Really? Are you sure?
Officer 1: Yes. Wait, here comes another one. Let's ask him. Hello. What are you here for?
Student: To study lor..

Oh, I tell ppl my kid is in primary school. Even if there is no such thing over here.. ;)

And sorry for the long post ah.. :D

zewt said...

kat - hahaha... study lor... well, i think it's a personal thing. it's like if you spend a few years overseas and cone back speaking the same kinda language, something is missing. i am not saying that is correct, it's just the perception. very bad indeed. yeah lah... high what high!!