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A Singlish poem

I just came across this Singlish poem in an article that appeared in Salon way back in 2007.

Wah! I heard we all now got big big debate.
They said future of proper English is at stake.

All because stupid Singlish spoil the market,
want to change now donno whether too late.

Aiyoh! Ang mo hear us talk like that also want to faint.
Even our “U” graduates speak like Ah Beng, Ah Seng.

Singlish is like rojak, everything throw inside anyhow mix.
Got Malay, Indian, Chinese and English, can give and take.

When you donno something is under table or chair,
you ask loud loud “Oi! Under where? Under where?”

When you see somebody behave very bad,
you scold him, “aiyah! Why you so like that?”

When you ended up in a traffic jam, and got stuck,
you complain, “today, I sai chia kena very chia lat.”

When you warn your kids to be careful all the way,
you tell them, “careful har, you better don’t play-play!”

When you see moon cakes with many egg yolks,
you say, “wah! This type good to eat, very shiok!”

When your friend mistook his mother for his aunt,
you disturb him, “alamak! Why you so blur one?”

You write like that in exam you sure liao.
Teacher mark your paper also kee siao.

This kind of standard how to pass?
Wait, you sure kena last in class.

Other people hear you, say you sound silly.
So like that how to become world-class city?

Basically Singlish got good and got bad.
Aiyah! Everything in life is all like that.

Actually Singlish got one bright side.
I am talking about our national plight.

Maybe I must explain to you what I mean.
If you’re prepared to hear me, I’ll begin.

Other people all say we all got no culture.
All we got is a lot of joint business ventures.

So we got no culture to glue us together.
End up we all like a big bunch of feathers.

Wind blow a bit too strong only we fly away.
Everybody all go their own separate ways.

Now we must play internet otherwise cannot survive.
Next time the only way to make money, or sure to die.

When other countries’ influences all enter,
we sure kena affected left, right and centre.

Sekali our Singporean identity all lost until donno go where.
Even Orang-Utan Ah Meng starts thinking like a Polar Bear.

But still must go IT otherwise become swa koo,
only smarter than Ah Meng of the Mandai Zoo.

Wait the whole world go I.T., we still blur as sontong,
next time we all only qualified to sell laksa in Katong.

So got this kind of problem like that how?
Either sit and wait or do something now.

But actually we all got one “culture” in Singlish.
It’s like rice on the table; it is our common dish…

I know this funny “culture” is not the best around
so we must tahan a bit until a better one is found.

Not all the time can marry the best man,
so bo pian got no prawns, fish also can.

I donno whether you agree with me or not?
I just simply sharing with you my thoughts.

Singlish is just like the garden weeds.
You pull like mad still it would not quit.

Sure got some people like and some do not like.
Singlish and English, they’ll still live side by side.

The poem appeared in an article in Salon headlined Will the sun ever set on the English language? The writer, Andrew Leonard, linked to an 118-page PDF file, As you like it: Catching up in an age of global English, by Samuel Jones and Peter Bradwell, writing for the UK think tank Demos. They wrote:

Now, there could be about 1.3 billion speakers of English, and only about 330 million of those native. This is the reality of global English. The overwhelming majority of speakers are non-native, and as people bring with them different cultures and contexts, and different experiences of using English, so the language itself has changed. English is now more a language family than a single language with different forms appearing such as ‘Chinglish’, ‘Hinglish’ and ‘Singlish’

Categories: Poetry Singapore

Abhijit

Abhijit loves reading, writing and getting news and information online.

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