There are a variety of ways to greet someone in Singapore. Let’s take a look at some commonly used ones in today’s post.
With a Handshake
The global gesture of greeting is the handshake, and this applies in Singapore, as well. However, some conservative Singaporeans of Malay or Indian backgrounds might not wish to do this with people of the opposite gender.
Handshakes are more appropriate in business settings like in office spaces between executives and partners. A firm handshake is preferred to a loose, limp one to signify a positive outlook on the meeting.
People who meet and network at coworking spaces can also shake hands when they’re first introduced to one another. It’s a formal yet friendly way to acknowledge someone who can potentially benefit your career or business.
With a “Hello. Have you eaten yet?”
Singapore is largely considered to be a foodie destination. So don’t be surprised if a local casually asks you, “Have you eaten yet?” when you’re introduced to them for the first time.
But make no mistake—this isn’t an open invitation to treat you to a buffet or a free meal. It’s an ordinary greeting in the manner of “How are you doing?” to which most people are expected to reply, “I’m good. Thank you.”
So if you’re hungry, go ahead and order from the menu or indicate that you’d appreciate a bite to eat at the host’s place.
In Singlish for Casual Meetings
Singlish is the result of a multi-cultural melting pot that involves several languages, dialects, and colloquialisms. Among friends and acquaintances, it’s typically the de facto language for casual meetups.
You can hear Singlish in snatches of conversations overheard in bars and shopping malls in Singapore, for instance. It’s emphasised by repeated words, shortened sentences, and certain inflexions to underline a point or emotion.
It might sound odd at first, but be around Singlish speakers long enough and you’ll soon learn to speak it like a local. Trust us on this lah.
In Any of the Official or Minority Languages of Singapore
Though English is the most widely spoken language in Singapore, its national language is Malay. Mandarin and Tamil also make up its four official languages, so you can expect a good variety of greetings and expressions here.
There are several minority languages in Singapore including Indonesian, Javanese, Hokkien, Punjabi, and more.
There are many ways to greet someone in Singapore, but it’s great to be mindful of several things before you do.
Context, setting, and how close the people are to each other play big roles in the manner of greeting.