Each country has a unique accent, and Singapore is no exception. But what is the accent in Singapore like?
Today’s post will hopefully shed light on this matter so you can learn to greet someone in Singapore like a local.
When speaking English, the accent depends a lot on their background
English is the most widely spoken language in Singapore, and it’s safe to say that most locals know how to speak it fluently. However, the Singaporean accent among English speakers here depends a lot on the speaker’s background.
English-speaking families with kids that study in international schools in Singapore will tend to have a more formal, newscaster-sounding delivery.
Those who speak Malay or Chinese at home will likely have these accents influence how they speak in English, as well.
Most tourists and foreigners who’ve been in Singapore for a time describe the Singaporean accent as a mix of British and American but with a sing-song quality.
This is perhaps owing to the television programs and social media personalities or Singapore influencers they see regularly.
Singaporeans tend to talk fast
With the multiple languages spoken in Singapore, you’d think that locals will take the time to enunciate each word carefully to be understood better. But no, Singaporeans tend to talk fast, whether it’s on their smartphones or in person!
Yet it’s easy enough to understand what the locals are saying if you ask them politely to repeat what they’ve just said. You can also ask them to slow down, and they’ll gladly oblige.
And if you are unfamiliar with certain acronyms they use, it’s perfectly fine to ask them to clarify. Before you know it, you might soon be using the same terms just like a local.
A lot of words are meshed together
Singaporeans enjoy making acronyms out of common situations as a form of code among colleagues and friends. They also end up meshing words together because of how quickly they talk.
Two-word phrases can tend to sound like one word. For instance, “never mind” can become “nehrmind.”
More than requiring translation services, a sharp ear and contextualisation skills can help you pick up this pattern of speech.
And no, it’s not a matter for speech therapists because it’s a local and endearing quirk that shows how much language evolves!
Singlish isn’t grammatically accurate (but gets the point across)
When we published our 50 helpful phrases to get around in Singapore, we included a Singlish guide since it’s considered the country’s unofficial language.
Don’t expect Singaporean English to make grammatical sense. Some words are used to emphasise an emotion, such as exasperation, delight, annoyance, or anger.
There are several underrated Singlish expressions that sum up certain situations succinctly, too.
For instance, the phrase “hong kan liao” is uttered when things go bad and is typically accompanied by a deep sigh. And when someone is described as a buay hiao bai, you’ll know you’ll be dealing with an arrogant person.