Singapore: Singlish

Hi backpackers,

Say whaaaaaat?

Especially in the heartlands, Singaporeans have a unique way of speaking. It’s an indigenous form of English, called Singlish, short for Singaporean English. Speak it, and you will instantly score points with the locals, and they might give you some travel tips or discounts at their stores.

Most foreigners say that Singlish sounds like alien language, and some expats take years to get used to the heavy accent. But you don’t really need to be spending all that effort. Just pick up 1 or 2 simple phrases and use them repeatedly!

Here are the most important Singlish phrases that tourists in Singapore should learn:

1. Aunty/uncle, you so nice, can cheaper or not??

Meaning: You’re such a nice person, I’m sure you’ll give me a discount!

In Singapore, we call anyone middle-aged to elderly Aunty or Uncle, and they don’t necessarily have to be related to us! Use it when bargaining for discounts on travel souvenirs or food.

2. Excuse me, can tell me, how to get to this place ah?? -point to map-

Meaning: Please direct me to this place.

When a Singaporean hears his native accent from the tongue of a tourist holding a map and looking confused, his instinct instructs him to help the poor guy!

3. You eat already not?

Meaning: Have you eaten? (In Singapore, this is the local way of asking, ” How are you?”)

Here’s a video of a local sitcom, Phua Chu Kang, to get the accent down pat!

I guarantee you the most interesting holiday in Singapore if you can chat up the locals and get them to tell you interesting facts about Singapore. 😉

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Your Singapore Guide


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