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By Taylor Garland

Learning languages has always really interested me, particularly learning each language’s slang. Since I’m only really fluent in English, I’ve had a wealth of different countries with English slang, but never did I think I’d love Singlish so much.

Singlish, Singaporean English, is easily one of my favorite things about this little island. It’s a mixture of primarily English and Hokkien Chinese (with a few Malay and Indian terms, so I’ve been told).

Here are some of my favorite terms:

  • Bo Jio (v) – to not invite ex. (when you see an Instagram post from your friend’s party that you didn’t know was happening) -in comment section- “Bo jio :/”
  • Shiok (adj) – great (has many different meanings, can be used as an exclamation or as an adjective) ex. Ooh-la-la. Wowie. Shiok. Jazzy, man. Beaut.
  • Chio (n) – pretty girl ex. She chio lah.
  • Smoking (v) – making things up on the fly, bluffing ex. Rose had no idea what she was talking about during her business presentation, she was smoking the whole time lah
  • Shag bawls (adj) – tiring ex. Have to listen to my friend complain about breaking up with her boyfriend….. wah shag bawls
  • Sien (adj) – annoying (because x has become a burden) ex. I’ve been studying for this exam all month, this is so sien.
  • Tabao (v) – to take away, food to go ex. I don’t have time to eat in canteen, so I have to tabao my lunch.
  • Can (v) – to be able to (similar in English, but different in sentence placement) ex. Can pay by nets? “Can, can”
  • Jialat (adj) – nothing is going your way ex. Wah jialat liao, look like it’s going to rain!
  • Aiyo (adj) – quick response to something bad or unpleasant ex. (cup of kopi is spilled on table) Aiyo, spill!