I purchased this fine piece of analog pixel art (cross-stitch embroidery) from a Carousell seller named Jess and had it framed by the craftsmen at Barakkath Frame Maker in Chinatown. I’m delighted with it!
The Chinese characters are:
sōng hè yán nián
pine crane prolong year
Pines and cranes are symbols of longevity. The flowers are a kind of peony (tree peonies, moutans, or mudan). They are medicinal as well as ornamental.
See close-up below.
Continue reading Pine Crane Prolong Year
Carousell is a fantastic classified ad platform. It embodies one of my favorite proverbs, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
However, to find the treasure, you have to hunt. There are clues, but sometimes the clues are misleading.
In particular, I’ve noticed that people use words for different kinds of furniture in surprising ways.
There are people who use the word cabinet to describe a piece of furniture when it is clearly a shelf—and vice versa!
Deciding what to call something is hard. Especially if you’ve got more than one language rattling around in your brain.
See below for proof.
Continue reading I don’t think it means what you think it means.
Oral language is a blur. We don’t notice, unless we try to sing karaoke and realize we have no idea what the words to our favorite songs actually are, or—worse—that we’ve been singing them wrong with utter conviction for decades.
Eggcorns (plausible malapropisms) are words or phrases that exist thanks to this kind of ambiguity. Wrong song lyrics, in case you’re curious, are called mondegreens.
On classified ad sites like Carousell, language assumptions that pass unnoticed in speech are made visible. You can learn a lot about the local dialect by cataloging the unintentionally hilarious mistakes that local native English speakers make.
See below for examples.
Continue reading Carouspell: A collection of spelling mistakes in Carousell classified ads
All my life I’ve been a fan of buying second-hand stuff at thrift stores, fall festival charity fundraisers, yard sales, garage sales, and online.
Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be many thrift stores in Singapore, and the few I’ve seen don’t have the variety, quality, or ludicrously attractive prices that their American counterparts do. There is no fall festival because there’s no fall. Practically nobody has a yard or a garage. But we do have the internet.
And what is the internet but a huge marketplace? A marketplace of ideas, yes, but also lots and lots of stuff. I love stuff. And Carousell is a great place to get it. See below for why.
Continue reading Carousell, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…
I love books. I love languages. I built welovetranslations.com.
You can read this post on that site!
This box set contains three folk tales told in Singlish style: The Three Little Pigs Lah, The Red Riding Hood Lah, and The Goldilocks Lah.
The plots are not very different from other adaptations of these familiar tales. The characters are not very different, except that the bears in the story of Goldilocks are not bears but wolves, a change presumably made to connect the third book with the first two. The setting for the stories is Singapore. The illustrations are a mix of drawings and photos of objects and places, and each book’s drawings are by a different artist.
The appeal of these books (in general and for me specifically) is that they use and teach Singlish dialect and slang expressions. The target audience includes both those who want to see their own dialect used for humorous effect and those who are unfamiliar with Singlish and interested in increasing their understanding of it.
See below for more details about these books.
Continue reading Threelogy Lah by Casey Chen
This advertisement (which was designed to be hung on a horizontal pole on a bus or a train) says:
West My Golden Ticket?
The idea for this jokey name is that the word “west” in Singlish has the exact same three sounds as the word “where’s” in Singlish.
Yep. They’re both pronounced “wes”.
Below is some explanation of what the advertisement wants you to do (spend money, duh) and how the math works.
Continue reading Spot the homophone (plus a lesson in contest statistics)
THIS POST IS OUTDATED! VISIT THE NEWER POST ABOUT BUYING BOOKS IN SINGAPORE!
Brick-and-mortar bookshops in Singapore (as elsewhere) face high rent and stiff competition from online sellers, so they’ve been dropping like flies. The major chains and a handful independents are still scraping by.
See below for lists of:
- Book Shops at Bras Basah Complex
- Other Indie Book Shops in Singapore
- Local Sources for Children’s Books
- Local Retail Book Chains
- Local University Book Shops
- Local Online Booksellers
- International Online Booksellers
- Special Book Sales
- Person to Person Websites
Last updated 7 Feb 2021.
Continue reading Buying books in Singapore
Reading The House of the Spirits taught me that “nacre” is a natural material related to pearl. And that I don’t actually like magical realism.
The author is a Chilean-American (born in Peru), the novel was written in Spanish, and—though the narrative never says—its setting is Chile. There are a couple of unnamed real (or real-ish) people in the narrative whom I don’t know anything about without looking them up. (“The Poet” is Pablo Neruda and “The Candidate/President” is Salvador Allende.) Wikipedia informs me that the purpose of the book was “to exorcise the ghosts of the Pinochet dictatorship,” which overthrew President Allende, a Socialist who had been elected democratically. The last name is not a coincidence; he was a cousin of author Isabel Allende’s.
The narration strangely flips between first and third person. I found the narration frustrating because the events are told in a kind of distant, rushed way. Rather than feeling involved in the story as if I was living it alongside the characters wondering what would happen next, I felt as if the events didn’t matter because they’d already happened and the narrator knows it all in more detail than I’m ever going to hear. Not every frame story causes this kind of bored impatience. This one does in part because from time to time the narration drops in facts about later events, which made the story feel even more abrupt and made it even harder to relate to the characters.
Thus, as long as the story is, it feels like a summary of a story and not a story. It feels like a movie of a book, the kind of movie that pogo-sticks through a much longer tale, picking out only the highlights. But at least in such a movie, one that switches from scene to scene with a lot missing in between, the scenes themselves are immersive.
I don’t get it. If the point of the book is to teach those who do not know how bad the dictatorship was, why tell a long, quasi-magical family story that doesn’t actually convey much history? The book seems merely to be using the coup as a dramatic climax for the story… to the extent that the book has a singular climax rather than a series of them.
When and Why I Read It
Rachel of the Hungry Hundred Book Club Meetup in Singapore chose it. I bought it by mail from someone on Carousell in Singapore.
Date started / date finished: 9-Sep-16 to 23-Sep-16
Length: 491 pages
ISBN: 0552955886 (paperback)
Originally published in: 1985
Amazon link: The House of the Spirits