The Singapore Slang.

About two years ago my husband and I moved from San Francisco to Singapore thinking this is going to be so easy to understand these Singaporeans since they speak English. Little did we know there were several differences that made a HUGE difference in regards to our perceptions and interpretations of things.

One thing that we did notice was Singaporeans were always telling us to get in the queue. In the beginning we simply didn't "get it." I guess what they meant was get in line!! Follow the line. Go stand in back of the line. It was a pleasant surprise to us that Singaporeans were so orderly and considerate in regards to waiting for their turn.

Another funny thing that took me off guard was the constant repetition of lah lah lahs and the can can cans. Our first experience was when we jumped in the taxi cab and said "Take us to Plaza Singapura!." The taxi guy just looked at us puzzled like huh? So we repeated ourselves. "Take us to Plaza Singapura!!." and still a bewildered look on his face. So after repeating ourselves we said "Take us to Plaza Singapura lah." And then he got it!! Its funny how if you add a simple Lah at the end of the sentence people actually start understanding you. 

One interesting cultural difference is when we go out to eat in many western countries in many service establishments when you sit down your sodas and coffees and tea have free refill. I guess here in Singapore its far from the case and if it is they call is "free flowing." Something very foreign to us. But, hey we are in a foreign country right? One embarrassing situation that I was put in several times where I thought the person offering me coffee tea or mee “Would You like to have Rice or Mee” was being overtly friendly and down right suggestive with me. What I did not know until later was mee was another name for noodles and not they were trying to be fresh with me!!

Last but not least being that I jumped in the property market here in Singapore a simple label that someone would call thing can throw an entire deal off if you don't understand the people. In the US we call a house a house. Here in Singapore it is called landed property. In the US we say backyard thinking its a sprawling lawn of green grass. Here in Singapore you have to specify garden and delved into saying does the garden have grass since there could be a yard but it could be a concrete or tiled up yard. In a nutshell we learn new words daily on how to call certain items Singaporean style that makes it interesting day by day.

Written by:
Michele Tom