Sunday, May 26, 2013

Know your Singlish

Ever wonder what language they speak in Singapore? If you said Singaporeanese you would be wrong; if you said English, Chinese, Malay, or Tamil you would be almost right; and if you said all of the above you'd be spot on (at least as far as "official" languages are concerned). Here in South Korea I've had the privilege of making a number of Singaporean friends and I've begun to learn a thing or two about this bustling multicultural Southeast Asian city-island-nation. 

Not my pic but a nice display of Singlish
While I have yet to travel to Singapore, which I feel will happen eventually, being a fan of sociolinguistic study, I have to say that one of the neatest things I found out about Singapore is the existence of Singlish. As you may have guessed, Singlish is a Singaporean dialect of English that contains a mish-mash of linguistic elements from the various languages commonly spoken by Singaporeans. By and large it's not all that different from Standard English pronunciation-wise but there's a whole bunch of slang and colloquialisms that would be lost on the average North American, making it virtually unintelligible in some cases. However, you do not need to live in ignorance, my friends! For at you may have access to a regularly updated database of Singlish vocabulary! Impress your Singaporean friends with your cultural savvy or, if you're planning to travel or work there, this could be a great resource! Just remember to make sure you're using the right slang -- not that I'm trying to "arrow" you or anything.


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