Singapore is a tourist hotspot. The country received around 17 million tourists last year, which is more than thrice its population. Singapore has four official languages: Malay, Mandarin, English and Tamil. Locals also speak Singlish, a mix of English, Malay, Cantonese, Tamil, Teochew and Hokkien. Though, the local government, as a part of its Speak Good English campaign, discourages the use of Singlish, the language is far from getting extinct in the near future. On your Singapore tour, you are most likely to come across locals using the language. To help stay on the same page and avoid confusion when communicating with them, the post lists some common Singlish phrases you must know. Read on.
1. ‘Die Die Must Try’
The phrase is used by the locals to express something that the other person must try even if the chances of failure or them having an unpleasant experience is overwhelmingly high. The phrase is commonly used by Singaporeans for their favorite dishes.
2. ‘Catch no Ball’
‘Catch no ball’ is the locals way of saying they do not get whatever is said. The phrase is derived from ‘liak bo kiu’, in the Hokkien dialect. You, however, cannot use the phrase the other way and say catch ball to let the speaker know you understand what they are saying.
3. ‘Blur Like Sotong’
Sotong in Malay means squid, an animal that squirts ink in their predator’s eyes, thereby blurring their vision and making it difficult for them to concentrate. The phrase is used by the locals for clumsy people who are slow at understanding things and are always clueless and confused.
4. ‘Talk Cock’
The origin of talk cock comes from the famous English phrase ‘a cock and bull story’ that is used to signify over-the-top stories. The phrase is used by the locals when the other person is not speaking anything useful or is uttering gibberish. There’s an extension of this phrase- talk cock, sing song, which is used to denote gossip done by friends during a get together.
5. ‘Why you so Like That’
The phrase is used by locals to denote frustration when the other person acts in an annoying way. When a Singaporean uses this phrase they are literally asking the other person, “why are you behaving this way”?
6. ‘Oi! Wake up Your Idea’
If a local uses this phrase, you need to be more attentive as they are asking you to come up with more productive ideas and start thinking straight. The sarcastic phrase is used by the locals to let the other person know their ideas are not taking the discussion anywhere and is an indication that they need to up their game.
These are some of the most common Singlish phrases used by locals in Singapore. The list, however, is not a comprehensive one and there are many other phrases Singaporeans use in their everyday life. To avoid confusion, hire a tourist guide for your Singapore tour; a local who is well aware of these and other Singlish phrases and terms.
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