11 December 2017
The British Council in Singapore has been busy raising awareness among expatriates of how Singlish is used in Singapore. Singlish is often regarded as an English creole, mixed with terms from Malay, Mandarin, Chinese dialects and Tamil.
The British Council conducts what it calls Coffee Morning sessions, held at its Napier Road premises. People from diverse nationalities attend these sessions, where they learn Singlish so as to improve their communication with Singaporeans.
Expatriates learn certain Singapore-specific terms, such as “slippers” (more commonly known as flip-flops to some) and “handphone” (mobile phone).
Other expressions that confuse expatriates include the invitation to “follow my car”, which means to get into the car rather than to physically follow behind a car, said British Council trainer Jacqueline Fisher.
Associate Professor Tan Ying Ying, a linguist at the Nanyang Technological University, said that when expatriates learn Singlish through their local friends, it builds camaraderie.