How to learn Singapore EnglishSingapore, which is a former British colony, has a peculiar variety of English. It sounds like broken English and is called Singlish—a highly complicated version of English. This form of English has a very unique staccato, off-grammar patois, and is very hard for visitors to imitate.

Easy to learn, hard to execute
According to Sai Pogaru, who immigrated to the country in 2001 and is now a resident, Singlish is easy to learn but very difficult to execute. He adds that the Singlish language accent has some flair that requires a lot of practice for one to sound authentic.

Origin of Singlish
Singlish is not just one creole, but it is actually a blend of numerous Southeast Asian dialects and pidgins. It is a product of mixing the country’s four official languages: English, Malay, Tamil, and Mandarin. English, which is now used as a common language, was brought to Singapore by the British during their colonization of the island state between 1819 and 1963.

After English was introduced in the Singaporean schools, it started spreading beyond the schools and was taken up by Indian, Chinese, and Malay people. On attaining independence from the British, the newly formed Singaporeans found it necessary to have a common language, hence English continued being taught in schools.

The granting of independence to Singapore also saw many British expatriates return to England. In the unregulated environment following their departure, the English spoken on the island became highly influenced by Malay, the original local language, and the other immigrants’ languages, which include Tamil, Mandarin, and Hokkien.

You should visit this beautiful, peaceful, and technologically advanced country to get a feel for this unique language firsthand, as well as other cultural aspects, including the great destinations. If you plan to go there, you need to engage a reliable visa and immigration agent, like Visa Express, to obtain your travel documents with ease.

Singapore view

Singlish grammar mirrors that of local languages
The grammar of Singaporean English reflects the grammar of the island state’s other languages. For example, you may hear a Singaporean say: I go bus-stop wait for you. This statement means that they will wait for you at the bus stop. The sentence can be translated into Malay or Chinese without interfering with the grammatical structure of the sentence. As such, those unfamiliar with the grammatical structure of these languages would have difficulty picking up Singlish.

Use of words from other languages in Singlish
Words from other languages have been incorporated into the creole, forming an entire English lexicon that is used today. For example, ”ang moh” is a Hokkien word that literally means “red hair,” but in Singlish, it describes people of Caucasian origin. Singlish’s most famous word is likely the common word “lah,” which is just a filler word that can be put anywhere in the sentence. However, it is used mostly as a form of audible punctuation at the end of a statement.

Tone further complicates Singlish
While English is a non-tonal language, meaning words have no specific tones linked with them, Chinese is a tonal language, and thus words change their meaning according to the tones in which they are spoken. Singlish keeps the tones of all the Chinese words it adopts, but has no tones for the words it gets from English, Tamil, and Malay; thus, it is a semi-tonal language.

Formal settings only retain Singlish accent
A further complication is that informal settings, Singlish tends to be significantly toned down, keeping only its accent and dropping the words and sentence structures used in normal daily interactions. This makes Singlish hard to trace, despite it’s being widespread across Singapore because it operates depending on the setting.

It would take a non-Singaporean a lot of practice and keen interest to learn Singlish to the point

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