An example illustrating some features of Singapore pronunciation that create homophones in Singlish is the syllable that sounds like “fyoo”. What word is it? There are more possibilities than you might imagine.
This is the grandaddy of all the other books on Singlish. This paperback, containing reprints of two originally separate volumes from 1982 and 1986, contains a wealth of acronyms, onomatopoeias, words, phrases, and chants in or derived from English, Malay, and the locally spoken Chinese dialects Hokkien, Cantonese, and Teochew.
When and Why I Read The Complete Eh, Goondu!
This is a list of Singlish words and phrases with explanations, grouped into chapters.
Genre: Reference (English, Singapore)
Date started / date finished: 26-Oct-20 to 19-Nov-20
Length: 221 pages
Originally published in: 2011
Amazon link: The Complete Eh, Goondu!
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.
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.
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.
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.
After I bought a Samsung S7 from a friend, I immediately bought a rubbery (thermoplastic polyurethane) case for it at the nearest mobile phone accessory kiosk. (Throw a rock in any direction in downtown Singapore and you’ll hit ten such kiosks.)
The text on the package is hilarious…
If you are looking to buy books in Singapore, this is a good place to go. It has several book shops selling new or used books. It also has print shops, art supply shops, stationery shops, and shops selling musical instruments and antiques.
Within the last couple of years, these colorful square signs were added to convey the complex’s status as a cultural hub of sorts.
Bras Basah Complex
* Art * Dance * Explore * Sport * Book
One of my pet peeves is lists of things that aren’t all the same part of speech. “Art, Dance, Explore, Sports, Book” is a fantastic example. See below for why.
Last June, I posted a photo of a sign that said “Cutleries Station”. They have improved the sign tremendously since then.
- In particular, the non-word “cutleries” has been replaced with “cutlery”.
- The sign has an icon showing cutlery, for additional clarity.
- The sign is in better shape.
- It uses cheesy alliteration (of which I am a fan).
I didn’t mention it before, but if you say “cutleries station” aloud, it runs together because of the “s” in the middle and sounds like “cutlery station”. Maybe the similarity in the pronunciation of the two phrases helps explain why the previous sign was written the way it was. The inaudibility of that double s also helps explain “Today Special“.
I can’t look at the URL printed on this bag and not think of the “salt and battery” (assault and battery) couples costume concept, which relies on the two meanings of “battery”. It’s kind of a tasteless pun, despite the salt!
This package of Japanese Kyuri from Malaysia says:
Rich in nutrients, Cucumber are excellent in salads, sandwiches, stir-fry and sushi.
Here, the fact that the singular is being treated like a plural makes it sound as if cucumbers are exotic animals like bison or buffalo.
Recently, though I don’t have a photo, I saw a sign in front of some model planes (in the Tin Tin shop strangely located on Pagoda St in Chinatown) that was advertising “aircrafts for sale”. Ack. No.
For a variety of historical reasons, English has many kinds of nouns that are annoyingly difficult to pluralize, and Wikipedia helpfully lists them.
Interestingly, the cucumber package shows ‘salads’, ‘sandwiches’, ‘stir-fry’, and ‘sushi’ all in the correct form, even though ‘salad’ requires an ‘s’, ‘sandwich’ requires ‘es’, and ‘stir-fry’ and ‘sushi’ are uncountable.
Why, then, was it so hard to give ‘cucumber’ its plural ‘s’?
And why is it capitalized?!