This morning on the AYE I saw a yellow truck belonging to a company called Buildables (not to be confused with Build-a-Bear). On the side, the truck said:

We build walls and ceilings faster than the speed of this truck.

I wanted to take a photo, but of course it was gone too fast.

Just now I did a Google search and found the Buildables website. I have no idea whether their products and services are any good, and I’m not in the market for walls or ceilings at the moment, but the design and content of the website was better than I was perhaps expecting.

I’m always fascinated to see products and slogans on vehicles rather than just the company name. Maybe someday I’ll get a photo of one of the trucks that advertises those purple Japanese sweet potatoes or a truck from that moving company whose bee mascot is cross-eyed (!).

No Admin Fee and GST

This is a sticker on the inside of the window in a taxi. It says:

when you pay with Dash!

Even assuming you like the ampersand in this font (I don’t), the conjunction needed here is ‘or’.

(No admin fee) and (no GST) => No (admin fee or GST)

The sign that says “no food and drinks” is also wrong for the same reason.

However, “Don’t leave your handphone & wallet behind”, assuming we find ‘handphone’ acceptable, sounds fine, since ‘handphone’ and ‘wallet’ can easily be considered a pair of items that would be forgotten together.

“Record shows 50% of the reported lost cases in taxi are Handphones and Wallets” on the other hand, has several problems…

I would rewrite that as follows.

Records show that 50% of the items reported lost in taxis are mobile phones and wallets.

On the other hand, I like the ampersand on this half of the sign much better. Even if it is crowding the descender on that letter ‘y’.

The Once and Future Singapore MRT System

So many trains now! I wish I still lived in Chinatown!
In December 2011, Flat Stanley was proud of Stage 2 of the Circle Line.
(Not a Downtown Line station in sight!)
In April 2011, Stage 2 of the Circle Line was just a glimmer in the eye of an urban planner.

I wish I had a photo of the map with just the green, red and purple lines, but apparently I don’t. You’ll just have to take my word for it: The circle line totally didn’t even exist in 2008 when we moved to Singapore.

Just another Ferrari

In part because those living in Singapore have to bid for a ten-year “Certificate of Entitlement” that can cost thousands of dollars even before buying a car, the cars tend to be pretty fancy. (If the COE costs $10,000, you’re not going to buy a car worth $20,000, are you? You’re going to buy an expensive one or skip out and rely on public transit instead.)

There are some people with serious money living in Sinagpore. In addition, showing off your money is not necessarily considered to be in poor taste here. I get the impression that prosperity in the form of wealth is not a shameful thing to wish for, or to achieve, in Chinese culture. This especially seems to be the case during Chinese New Year, when people put up decorations featuring traditional forms of money.

I’ve seen more fancy cars in Singapore in the last seven years than I ever thought I’d see in a lifetime. Such as, for example, this one, chillin’ in front of Orchard Parade Hotel.


Once, I saw a car like this (another a red Ferrari) parked in Chinatown on the street where we used to live. It was parallel parked just in front of a backpacker hostel. There’s a combination you don’t see every day: $30 lodgings and a $1,000,000 car within a few feet of each other.

What I don’t understand, aside from how people can ever trust themselves to drive such expensive machines, is why all new cars, not just sports cars, have angry eyebrows. All new cars look mean.

I think it’s more noticeable in Singapore than in other parts of the world because cars here live short lives. Turnover is high. There have been at least three different generations of Toyota taxis in the last 7 years. And the new ones look mean.

When we arrived, there were some really boxy taxis. Then there were some slightly frowny ones. And now they’re full-on mean. See?

Transitive and phrasal verbs and taxis

The word ‘alight’ didn’t used to really be part of my vocabulary, probably because in the US we had a car and we drove ourselves everywhere we couldn’t walk or fly. In Singapore we use buses, trains and taxis to get around. So now I hear automated announcements that say something like:

The next stop is XXX interchange. Passengers traveling to YYY, please alight at the next station.

Please allow passengers to alight before boarding.

That’s all very well and good. I have nothing against the verb ‘alight’. I don’t think there’s necessarily a better word to use, if you want an expression more formal than ‘get off (or out of) the vehicle’.

No, what amuses me is when ‘alight’ is used transitively to mean ‘drop someone off’. Or when someone means ‘drop you off’ and only says ‘drop you’.

May I alight you here?

May I drop you here?

I don’t think it’s just taxi drivers who use ‘drop’ to mean ‘drop off’, though. I think non-Singaporean native English speakers say that too, don’t we?

This is language evolution in progress. Why shouldn’t any verb be able to take an object? Why shouldn’t we just kill off—I mean, um, kill—all those pesky phrasal verbs? Maybe this is the future.

Chasing JM Ice

I admit to a level of interest in the vehicles of Singapore that I cannot easily explain. Arguably the focus of this strange fascination is the fleet of about forty numbered ice trucks belonging to JM Ice, I suppose because the trucks are very distinctive and colorful.

I kind of assume that each JM Ice truck has its own territory (truck 37 seems to hang out in Chinatown). The ones I haven’t seen are probably ones that go to parts of Singapore I’m not usually in. The highest number I’ve seen is 38. Sometimes I get photos, but it’s hard when the trucks are on the move!

Below is a record of the ice trucks I’ve seen (including a couple of trucks belonging to JM Ice’s competitors).

Continue reading Chasing JM Ice

Queue for taxi

at the National Skin Centre
at the National Skin Centre

The sign says “QUEUE FOR TAXI”.

I wonder whether it means “[This is the] queue for [getting a] taxi” or “[Please ] queue [here] for [a] taxi”.

In one case, ‘queue’ is a noun, and in the other case, ‘queue’ is a verb. Actually, I think ‘queue’ is probably a verb.

Not that it really matters.

It only matters if the sign is trying to say, “[This is the] queue for [the] taxis [themselves]” because then it would be a singular/plural error.

The sign should just say “taxi queue” like most of them do.

In the US, we don’t really use the word ‘queue’. Which is fine with me, since as far as I can tell, ‘queueing’ is pretty much the only English word that has five consecutive vowels (HT XKCD).

In other news, ‘strengthlessnesses’ is a plausible hypothetical word with surprisingly few vowels, all of them ‘e’.

On a related note: at some point, Gallup chairman Dr. Donald O. Clifton apparently decided to name his awesome analysis tool  The Clifton Strengthsfinder, ensuring it would be unpronounceable even to native speakers of English and completely inconceivable to anyone else. I mean, ‘strengths’ is bad enough, but to then follow it up with a word starting with ‘f’? What was he thinking? I guess he never taught a small child how to read.