Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Of language and accent (2)

It seems that my previous post on the topic has elicited quite a response so I thought that it befits a second post on the issue.

It's not only the grammer and accent. Even if a Singaporean speak perfect British accented English with faultless grammer, it would never be the same. The attitude behind the British English (language) comes with the upbringing and culture. Below are five of the common phrases used that you'll never catch a Singaporean uttering.

You don't know what you're talking about, do you?
Ouch! That sounds abit unnecessary and 'in your face'. But taken in the right context, it's really a friendly chid.

Oh really?
The Singaporean equivalent of "is it?". To a Singaporean, "oh really" sounds rather sacarstic and tend to put the receiver at a defensive mode.

"The roti prata along Casuarina Drive is the best in Singapore!"
- "Oh really?"
"Er... yes. What's YOUR favorite then?"
(see what I mean?)

It's an exclamation of surprise (an abbreviated form of 'blind me'). The closest Singaporean equivalent would be 'wah lau eh'...

"Blimey, the MRT has just left!"
"Wah lau eh, the MRT has just left!"

Hmm... perhaps 'wah lau eh' doesn't really convey the meaning of 'blimey'. Any other suggestions?

That's bollocks
It is an exclamation of annoyance, disbelief or disagreement. Actually it's used in the 1800s as a slang for testicles (serious). But right now, it's like saying 'what a load of rubbish (or nonsense)'.

The Singaporean equivalent? 'What the f**k?!' seems to fit the bill quite well.

Absolutely fantastic, great and lovely
British love to pepper their conversations with these words, which is rather pleasant. By doing so, the speaker endears the listener to him.

"Hi ye, it's a lovely morning, isn't it?"
- "Oh yes, it's absolutely fantastic!"
"How are you doing today?"
-"I'm feeling great! What about you?"
and it goes on...

Have you heard of any other phrases that are uniquely British to add to the list?
Next up, we'll have phrases commonly used by Singaporeans. Stay tuned!

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Anonymous said...

Oh man.... how I love to read these jokes but hate to hear all these singlish! I don't know about you, I'll hide whenever Singaporeans speak in HK supermarkets, "... grapes, no seed leh, cheap hor... buy lar...."

London Soon

C K said...

Haha... I get what you mean. Welcome to the club! But oddly, I often cringed when I heard American (or British) accented English spoken by Singaporeans back home as well. Oh well..

kyh said...

Ah I love these kinda posts! Been very busy these days, and I'm slowly catching up with all ur previous entries.

I think that Singlish/Manglish should only be used among close friends and peers, but not in the public or formal occasions where there's a huge possibility of foreigners/international visitors passing by.

C K said...

Thanks for stopping by :)
It's kind of funny how we know that it's wrong yet carry on speaking in Singlish/Manglish.

But that's what makes people around the Straits unique. Kind of anyway.