30 October 2012


I love Singlish. 

It is brilliant. 




I am hopelessly and helplessly addicted. Amongst my favorites is "can" and it's counterpart "cannot"

They are diametrically opposed. 

When asked if you are going out for a drink tonight one can simply reply "can".

Alternatively you can include it in your own question. "Drink tonight? Can?"

I overheard a Singaporean colleague on the telephone the other day. I was eavesdropping. It was at least a five minute conversation where the caller was - I assume - asking many questions. My colleague replied "can" no less than 17 times in a row. 

I was counting. 

He terminated the call with a resounding "cannot'.  No other words were uttered. 

It was magnificent.

With Singlish one can also add colour with the use of "la". It has no meaning.

The enquiry "Drink tonight? Can?" may be responded to with a "Can la" It adds emphasis. 


Another popular piece of Singlish that I adore is poetically polite. It is beautifully Singaporean and is only uttered between noon and 2pm. It is time sensitive.

It is the question "Have you taken your lunch?"

When I first arrived on this wonderful island and this was asked of me I was perplexed. 



Was there somewhere I should be physically taking my lunch? Where do I take it? I didn't bring any in! 

Now I ask it with abandon. 

And when put to me I now reply as a matter of course.

I say, "Taken" or “Taking”

Whichever the case may be.

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