Posts Tagged ‘Singlish’

Wait a while.

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

I hear this phrase quite a bit and have no idea what to make of it.

“Please, wait a while.”

When ever you’re in a situation that necessitates you to wait any amount of time at all, Singaporeans use that phrase. The most recent occurance of this happened last week at the doctors office.

I had just seen the doctor and was at the reception desk. I still needed to get a MC (Medical Certificate). I signed the forms that I needed, then asked the receptionist about the note.

“Please, wait a while.”

What does that mean? I was standing at the reception desk, if it was going to be a while, should I take a seat? If it was only going to take a few seconds, wouldn’t she have said, “Please, wait a second.” or “Please, wait a moment”

If it was going to take a while truly, she wasn’t going to have me wait and block the reception desk right?

In the end, I waited about 2-3 minutes at the desk. More than the standard amount of time that would have prompted “Please, have a seat.”

I’m still confused. How long is a while?

Word of the day

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Today’s word of the day is “Kiasu”. Kiasu is an adjective that describes a person usually. When a person is kiasu, they can’t stand to be left out or more accurately, this is a person that wants it all.

For instance, say there are multiple events going on in the same evening, a person who is kiasu will have to go to each one even if it’s just for a few minutes at each. Or, a friend might have just bought a new gadget so you need to go out and buy it as well.

I suppose this translates into a phrase used occasionally in the US, “Keeping up with the Jones”

Singapore and Asia in general has a lot of “Kiasu” going on. I think it has to do with always being a step or two behind the West or Europe. I guess that’s why we have an indoor snowboarding facility, an ice rink, and soon a casino.

Word of the day

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Is it?

Today’s word of the day is a translated punctuation mark, “is it?”

Singaporeans sometimes end a question with the phrase “is it?” Its similar to how we Americans use the word “right?” when we ask questions.

For example:

Singlish –
“The meeting is at 5PM, is it?”

American English –
“The meeting is at 5PM, right?

Strange but true. Strange but true.

Word of the day.

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Going with the current theme of the day. Today’s word of the day is a double, “uncles and aunties”

As with most asian cultures, the term “uncle or auntie” is a term of respect and or reverence. And in some situations, it’s a title that is expected. 

Our office has a few cleaning ladies or “aunties” They make sure that our work environment is neat and orderly. Their services are *GREATLY* appreciated. And as such, they deserve the respect that the title “auntie” bestows upon them.

When I run into a family in an elevator or on the MRT train and I joke with to the little children, the parents sometimes tell their children to say hi to “uncle” I appreciate this extra respect that they’ve imbued upon me. Though it is totally undeserved, it is a bit of an ice breaker and makes for easier conversations.

Now, taxi drivers are in a third category. They totally expect you to call them “uncle” sometimes it’s very deserved, other times you have to do it to get dropped off where you’d like. A taxi driver that is friendly and cordial to you that takes you from point A to point B deserves your respect. A driver that says he won’t take you to a place, because it’s out of his way and needs some extra coaxing (calling him uncle and trying to convince him to do his job) gets called “uncle” but doesn’t deserve this title.

I’ll explain the plight of taxi drivers in another post. <grin>

Word of the day.

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Today’s word is “queue”.

If there is something that defines Singapore, it’s queues. No one here waits in lines. They wait in “queues”.

Lines are what you draw on paper. “Queues” are a line of people or cars waiting for something. And in Singapore, there is lots to wait for.

They stand in queues for taxis.
They stand in queues for the ATM.
They stand in queues for restaurants.
They stand in queues for the elevators.
They stand in queues for movies.
They stand in queues for buses.

You get the point, there are a lot of queues here. If you ask an auntie or uncle where the line for something is, they’ll look at you with a blank stare. Be sure to ask where the queue is instead.

Word of the day.

Monday, June 9th, 2008

I’ve decided to post little tidbits of the local lexicon for people to digest.

Colleagues = Co-worker.

No one in asia seems to use the word co-worker. Or at least very few do. The people with an education in the US or the UK use co-worker it seems, but even Australians use colleague. I personally feel that the word colleague would refer to someone in the same field of study or employ as myself, but not necessarily employed by the same company. Or, that person might be a fellow academic or researcher, but not be financially employed by a corporation or institution.

My colleagues and I will be going on a recruiting trip to Hong Kong.