A word about heavy metal
Malaysian scholar Naem Azmi has an unusual passion for an English teacher. He's obsessed with heavy metal music and its relevance to literature.
The 28-year-old lecturer recently graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics. He was one of 23 students to receive their parchments at an offshore graduation ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on 23 April.
Naem hopes to use his qualification to help research the correlation between heavy metal music and the English language.
"I started to explore heavy metal music in 1994 and realised it conveys a lot of different meanings," he said.
"Its strength lies in its range of vocabularies, the stress patterns of pronunciation, the articulation styles and grammatical constructions. Some sub-genres of heavy metal also carry strong literary influences."
Naem is hoping to discover certain parallels between heavy metal and the English language, including how non-literary, factual lyrics can
be used to convey meanings to an audience.
"For example, the Rage's `Enough is Enough' (Trapped 1991) takes a look at the tendency of modern society to engage in war. The title itself suggests that the speaker is fed up with war."
Heavy metal lyrics have also expanded Naem's vocabulary. "When I was younger, apart from reading books I read lyrics to find out what bands were singing about so that the content didn't clash with my personal, religious and moral values. I avoided satanic black metal bands for that reason.
"In the process I discovered new words such as `apathy', `infamy', `disdain', `dismal' and `animosity'."
Naem currently teaches English at the University Utara Malaysia (UUM), Kedah, and also devotes a large portion of his time to producing quality papers and publications.
"In the months to come, I'll be one of the few people assigned to teach and supervise Masters students for Applied Linguistics in UUM," he said.
"It goes without saying, you can't teach what you don't know. I believe my experience at the University of Adelaide will undoubtedly assist me in explaining to students the core of semantic applications to languages."
Naem is no stranger to foreign experiences. In 2000 he gained his Bachelor of Arts (English) from the Southern Illinois University in the United States.
After that he worked for a private college in Johor Bahru, teaching basic English grammar to students before applying for a tutorial post at UUM. That position has just been upgraded to a lecturer's post.
"I'm hoping to get my PhD next and then pursue the heavy metal correlation with the English language because it's an area I am really interested in," he said.
Naem spent 18 months studying at the University of Adelaide with his wife, Mazura Jamali, who also completed her Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics.
"It was a privilege studying there and it has been a huge help to my career," Naem said.
Story by Candy Gibson