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"When in Singapore, you must..." Singapore Local Custom Tip by

Singapore Local Customs: 232 reviews and 163 photos


When in Singapore, you must pick up a word or two of 'Singlish' - a loose mixture of English with other local languages/dialects. In Singlish, the word 'lah' and 'can' are two favourite tags. So a taxi driver may say to you - 'You want to go to Clarke Quay, lah?' to which you'd answer 'Can, lah!' I know it sounds strange at first; but I guarantee you'd get a hang of it after a while. :-) I kind of enjoy speaking in this manner when I'm with my Singaporean friends.
Some important words you should know are:

'Ang Mo' = Caucasians (us!). It literally means 'Red Hair' in Chinese i.e. That's an 'Ang Mo'.

'Blur' = Someone who doesn't know what the hell is happening! :-) i.e. He is such a 'blur' person.

'Havoc' = Somebody who's really wild/ party animal i.e. She's such a 'havoc' queen!

'Kiasu' = Someone who does not like to lose out to others; not wanting to 'lose face' i.e. He is so 'kiasu'.

'Yah lah' = O.K../ Yes i.e. 'Yah lah, it can be done'

'Shiok' = Marvellous/ Fantastic i.e. Wow, 'shiok'.

'Terok' = Very troublesome i.e. This is very 'terok'.

'Ya Ya' = Someone who's boastful/ arrogant i.e. She's very 'ya ya'.

Now that you have a rough inkling of what these locals are saying, you'd NEVER have to fear that they're gossiping behind your back! Give them a run for their money, my friends!!!!

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Aug 24, 2002
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