For the 2nd time in two weeks, we have a Glossary addendum that’s my fault. In last week’s article “Singaporeans Weigh in on What it’s Like to Study in America,” we quoted a student from Singapore as saying:
Even if you avoid Singlish altogether and enunciate every word properly, speaking at the normal Singaporean pace won’t help the Americans understand you any better.
Someone immediately made a suggestion to the Glossary for the word “Singlish.”
In colloquial English you’ll sometimes hear words like this that indicate a mixture of English and another language. The most common word of this type in America is Spanglish, a combination of English and Spanish. In Singapore, “Singlish” is a local slang that comes from a mixture of English, Chinese and other local dialects.
I can’t speak for Singapore, but in America at least, you’ll want to be careful about describing the way someone speaks as “Spanglish” (or any other “-lish”). These slangs are used within native speaker communities, and as an outsider, it might be considered derogatory if you use it to describe the way someone else speaks.
By the way, Singlish sounds like a fascinating language. If anyone from Singapore wants to write a few sentences in Singlish to give us an example of what it sounds like, that would be great! (There are a few examples on Quora…)
Got a suggestion for the Glossary? Leave it in the comments or use the form below