Thursday, March 16, 2006

Speak Good English

There are two main 'types' of English spoken in Singapore - Standard English and Singapore English, or 'Singlish', - the link pidgin that has become part of our national identity:

Standard English - a form of English that observes the grammatical rules and usage patterns generally accepted by educated persons in native-English-speaking countries. The written form should be virtually indistinguishable from correct English as written in those countries. The spoken form may include pronunciation, accent and lilt features unique to Singapore, but not so pronounced that others cannot understand what we're saying.

Singlish - is a kind of English lah, but got many feature which are local. Nearly always, we never follow the grammar one. For example, John can say, "Lisa have ever went my home before, but until now ah, she no hope one, she cannot remember my address." Or Swee Keng can ask her friend, "Eh, last night you got see television or not? The show so funny. Aiyoh, I laugh until my stomach painful."

What make our Singlish like that, one? Because the Chinese got influence on it. For example, many Singaporeans ah, they never take bus one. They sit bus. They sit number ninety-five or number two-three-eight.

Or sometimes they say, "last year my sis buy a house on the thirteen floor and for sure must have a big television set in the hall." House on the thirteen floor? Actually what the angmoh call apartment. Hall? What angmoh call living room. In Chinese, we call it "ting", so translate as "hall" lah.

Actually ah, can't blame us for the standard of English, I mean, when my mother, he marry my father that time, she shock. Wahlau, she say, my father whole family no one speak English. In fact, my grandfather that generation never go school. So now consider progress already, at least our generation we got speak English.

Singlish also use many word from Chinese or Malay. I give you another example: Lester he say, "my sergeant very bochap one, but the other platoon ah, the NCO always tekan them. Lagi they all very aksi aksi one."

But sometimes, not only single word slip in. Whole phrase also slip in. For example, Desmond can ask his friend, "Eh, your new computer ah, nage modem built-in one right? Modem speed ne? Ruguo ni yao upgrade in future, then zenme ban?".

- from the Yawning Bread archives


Blogger Mimi said...

Very interesting - I find linguistics to be fascinating.

Fri Mar 17, 02:50:00 am 2006  
Blogger Iosue Andreas said...

Hilarious! Your post brings me back to my days in KL (among the Hagarenes, as Edward would say) and the Manglish I heard there among my Malaysian-Chinese friends.

Sat Mar 18, 08:59:00 am 2006  
Anonymous michaelk borussia said...

You'll have noticed that your above two commentators are like myself, kwai lo or ang moh, if you prefer.
It is natural that for the first year or so Singlish or Manglish has it's peculiar charm. But after about 3 years or so, the use of "last time" to replace the past tense form of any verb will no longer strike you as quaint. J
Last time, that one funny lor. Can understand. Now, no can.
I'm afraid I can't be more charitable...I lost that sometime during the ridiculous Asian values debates.

Sat Apr 01, 06:35:00 am 2006  

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