But first, do you know what to call the people from Singapore?
If you aren’t sure, read this post to pick up something useful.
“Singaporeans” as a General Term for Its Citizens
The most common term to describe the citizens of Singapore is “Singaporeans.” They might be of Chinese, Malay, Indian, or Eurasian descent, but they’re Singaporeans if they identify with all that Singapore represents.
No matter what their ethnic background may be, a single Singaporean identity ties them together as one nation. At the same time, their respective traditions and rituals are encouraged and preserved.
Aside from its indigenous people, Singapore’s modern residents consist of descendants of early immigrants from other countries.
“Uncle” or “Auntie” for Middle-Aged or Older Men and Women
If it’s your first time visiting Singapore and hearing older people being called “auntie” or “uncle” by younger Singaporeans, don’t be alarmed. It doesn’t mean that all of Singapore is one giant clan where everyone’s related!
It’s only the colloquial term of respect in the same way that you’d call someone older “sir” or “ma’am” in other cultures. You could hear them everywhere there are middle-aged or elderly people, such as in hawker centres or nursing homes.
So if you want to live in Singapore someday, anticipate that around your retirement age, you’ll be called an auntie or an uncle by younger people. It’s a term of endearment that can make growing old worth it.
“Kor” or “Jie” by Younger People for Older Males and Females
Singapore teens and younger people can use familiar and casual ways to address relatives, friends, or acquaintances who are older than them (though not by several generations).
An older male person can be called “kor (plus the person’s name),” while an older female person can be addressed as “jie (plus the person’s name).” Again, this is a sign of respect and endearment among younger Singaporeans.
It can also be used to address older people in the service industry, such as with food and beverage or cleaning services. Being polite goes a long way in Singapore, especially among service providers.
“Mister” or “Miss” in a Formal or Business Setting
Since English is the de facto language of businesses and education in Singapore, the terms for Singaporeans in these settings typically follow it.
So instead of hearing “auntie,” “uncle,” “kor,” or “jie” in an office space, it’s more likely that people there will be called “mister” or “miss” regardless of their age. It’s the appropriate way to address colleagues, superiors, and partners in a corporate setup.
The same applies to those you meet in coworking spaces in Singapore. Addressing an acquaintance in a working setup in a formal way is a sign of both respect and propriety.