Singlish, quite literally, means Singapore English-- a unique blend of the languages and dialects of the diverse ethnic groups residing here.
Most Singaporeans are actually capable of speaking proper English, but do not do so on a daily basis out of habbit. We do try to leave out the singlish punctuations when speaking to tourists, also known as Ang Mors (foreigners).
Common singlish punctuations are lah, lor, ley, wah lau, oei..usually teamed with an exclamation.
English- I don't want
Singlish- Don't want lah!
English- It's fine if you don't want it.
Singlish- Don't want, don't want lor!
English- Don't behave like that.
Singlish- Don't like that ley!
English- Why are you late?
Singlish- Wah lau! Why you so late?
And so on..someone mentioned dropping the Ts which is not quite how it goes. Words are still pronounced as is, most of the time. Most foreigners have fun trying to punctuate every sentence with a 'lah'....try it!
If you stroll down Orchard Road on a Saturday afternoon, listen to the conversations among youngsters and teenagers. You know that they are speaking English, but a very strange form of English with unintelligble words, idioms and sentence structure. You are right - they are speaking Singlish, a vernacular form of English. It consists of a unique blend of Malay, Fujian dialect, and broken ungrammatical English. Singapore is a multi-racial society with a Chinese majority of 85%, Malays 12% and the remaining are Indians and Caucasians. Because of the successful ethnic integration policies in public housing, education and in the community, people of various ethnic groups have inadvertently picked up a few words and phrases from the language or dialect of another ethnic group. The result is a cacaphony of loosely-strung words and phrases, which is understood by the true-bred Singaporean but sounds gibberish to the native English speaker.
Don't be alarmed if you are unable to understand Singlish. Ask the person to repeat himself again slowly and if necessary, to explain himself more precisely.
Personally, I do not speak Singlish, but I hear it everyday at work, in the supermarkets, at shopping centers and other public places.
An enterprising Singaporean has compiled an on-line Singlish dictionary, the URL of which I am listing below for your handy reference.
Singlish boleh lah!!
Singaporeans speak in a peculiar formof English called "Singlish".
Singlish mixes English with some common phrases in the Chinese dialects (mostly Hokkien) and some Malay. Singlish is one of the elements that gives Singaporeans their unique identity.
Practice the following phrases with your Singaporean friend :
Aiyah: sigh and exasperation.
(Aiyah, like that also can meh).
Cheem: Difficult to understand.
(the book is so cheem, dont understand leh)
Huh: I beg your pardon
(Huh? I dont get u)
Lah, lor, meh: For punctuating sentences.
(Don't be like that lah. I am like that lor. Cannot meh)
Shiok: Something that gives a kick.
(the chilli crab was so hot and so shiok)
Most people do speak English but you have a few who are hard pressed on speaking Singlish and will get pissed off if you do not understand.
*** This does not only happen in Singapore it happens in other countries too.
Even though 90% of Singaporean are english-educated, we tend to speak improper English mixed with some malay, chinese. For example, you will hear a lot of a-ya, wa-lau, don't lah when you come to Singapore.
Most people in SIngapore speak Singlish , which is a kind of dialect. Taxi drivers particulary look at you blankly when you say you're destination , but understand immediatley when you say it in what you'd imagine to be a comedic oriental accent, just drop all the t's and you'll be halfway there.
I even bought a book to understand it and remember the funniest espressions. It's a mix of Malay, Hokkien, Mandarin, English and various others...end up being quite confusing but cute.
Next time my sister will say:
"Singaporeans man all very hard to please, one. They all ai pee, ai chee, ai tua liap nee.”
I'll understand !
And if someone call you Ang Mor...reply: "Kong si mi leh ?"...you just made a new friend !
But if you meet the sexy Singaporean on the picture, then you better know fast how to say nice things in Singlish...might help your chance of finding a Singapore girlfriend.... that ger quite chio hor !! Ku ai lah !