Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Say it in Singlish

Here are some of the latest gems I've heard in the world of Singaporean language:

Luncheon Meat

American English:

Singlish: Can you borrow me a pen, lah?

American English: Can you lend me a pen?

Singlish: Can repeat again lah? I catch no ball leh.

American English: Repeat what you just said. I can't understand you.

Singlish: (I saw this on a sign) Saturday store will be close.

American English: The store will be closed on Saturday.
(The Singaporeans commonly drop off past tenses and plurals on words. It really drives me crazy and makes me wish I carried around a Sharpie marker to make corrections for them. Yes, I'm the annoying grammar girl.)


Travis said...

Why do they say "lah" after everything?

Cori said...

Hey grammar girl, I left that recipe on the cooking blog. I laughed out loud when I saw it needs a cake mix from a box. Your friends will be shocked at how delicious it is. :)

Megan said...

Travis, they say "lah" because as the country learned English, they incorporated some things from their native tongue. In either Hokkien or Mandarin, they often end their sentences with "lah". So when they speak English, it feels unnatural to them to not add the "lah" at the end.

Oh and Sis, thank you thank you thank you. I cracked up when I saw the cake mix in there. They are gonna go into shock when they try it. :)

Sandra said...

Hey Megan, you forgot one more in Singlish "Potatoes only boils once" Translation : I will only say this once.....

Nekronot said...

they have a singlish dictionary that should be able to help you. it's even available in some bookstores... it's a riot to read, since I'm not one of those Singaporeans who despise Singlish...

Anonymous said...

Lah is from malay roots I think...
To add to your list,
"Fifty cents one choke" Choke meaning porridge.
"No outside food to eat here!"
Meaning no food purchased from stores elsewhere are allowed here.
"You want flied lice?" (Vocal) Yup, the "r" becomes an "l".
"Can I borrow your rubber?" This happened in cornell when a friend of mine turned around asking some white guy sitting behind her for an eraser.
"I need some fags" Borrowed from England, raises eyebrows stateside.
"I %$%^$&^% hate honkies!" Happened to me first semester at college, whereby my pal from virginia fired off a retort, and it was only cleared up when we discovered that honkies in singapore = HKers, while honkies in the US meant the guns and pickup types.
and yes, I detest singlish...whenever I hear it, I am almost prompted to respond in the traditional hokkien swear sentence...I do like the locust valley lockjaw though, wished everyone here picked that up :)