The Future of Language


Singapore English

Today in Asia, there are examples of language evolution. Step forth Singapore’s street language, Singlish, a colloquial brand of English with words plucked primarily from English, Malay and Chinese, and tossed into a straight-to-the-point syntactical structure. Singlish is widely used by the locals and can be almost incomprehensible to Western English speakers – one can almost draw a parallel between it and the early development of the Romance languages. It is interesting to note that, despite the Singapore government’s strong encouragement that its citizens speak standard British English through the national ‘Speak Good English Movement’, Singlish has only continued to thrive. In fact, some Singlish words like ‘blur’, ‘wah!’ and ‘shiok’ have become so commonplace that the highly-respected Oxford English Dictionary has added them to its lexicon!


Singlish/English Phrases


Why you always like that one?

Why do you always react in such a way?


Want to rain, want to rain, never rain.

It looked like it was going to rain, but it didn’t.


He take go already.

He has taken it with him.


Don’t anyhow say leh!

You mustn’t make baseless accusations.


This new guy whole day talk so cheem, I really catch no ball!

What this new guy says is always going over our heads; I just haven’t the faintest

idea what he’s talking about.


Go where take bag, ah?

Where do I go to collect my luggage?


Go hawker centre better!

I’d rather eat at a hawker centre.


Wah lau, the movie damn sian.

I didn’t really like the movie:

I found it rather uninteresting.


Check out the rest of this article in Asian Geographic No.120 Issue 5/2016 here or download a digital copy here


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here