A few days ago, Kevin Hart was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. And this is what I find incredible : they both do not know that WE SPEAK ENGLISH IN SINGAPORE. No, seriously. Watch this :
The thing is, I don’t think they were joking. Decades ago when I was studying in Australia (yes decades ago), there were countless incidences of locals coming up to me and saying, “Wow! You speak such good English!” — even university lecturers. Last month when I was in South Africa, the same shit happened with a few of the locals (strangely only with the white locals), “You girls speak so well!” I’m not gonna lie and say each time this happens I don’t feel insulted — I calm myself down by knowing that they are ignorant. I would like to think that in this day and age of the internet, ignorance doesn’t exist; but you know what… I’m ignorant too. There are lots of countries in the world that I know little of. And so, since Singapore is going to play host to a couple of world leaders in a week, and the whole world is gonna have eyes on us, I’ve put together a guide on common misconceptions people have about our little country (yes, we are a country! More on that below).
Share this with all the expats you know.
WE SPEAK GOOD ENGLISH
We all learn and speak English in school; all our subjects (except for languages) are in English. Every Singaporean also learns a second language, which is our “mother tongue”. For example, Chinese will learn Mandarin, Malays will learn Malay, and Indians will learn Tamil. In fact, many of us know dialects as well, such as Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka, and Hainanese. But once again, we all speak English — and we are good at it.
SINGAPORE IS NOT IN CHINA
Singapore is a country, city and capital. There are three city states in the world and Singapore is one of them (the other two are Monaco and Vatican City). Singapore is NOT PART OF CHINA. And once again, we speak ENGLISH.
WE SELL GUM
The most famous thing Singapore is known for is the ban on chewing gum. That’s because idiots spit them on the floor for people to step on, and jam them on the door sensors of trains, causing disruptions and challenging clean up work. But since 2004, the ban was lifted on dental and nicotine gum. Wikipedia says that you can only get these at clinics, but that’s not true; you can easily find them at pharmacies islandwide. So there you have it… if you really want to chew gum, go ahead and clean your teeth while you’re at it. And as Lee Kuan Yew said, “If you can’t think because you can’t chew, try a banana.”🍌
ICE CREAM IN BREAD IS NORMAL
Buzzfeed UK had to issue an apology when they dissed people who eat ice cream between bread. If you take a walk down Orchard Road (our main shopping belt), you’ll see ice cream vendors (“uncles”) selling these. It’s a must-try. In fact, I feel like having one now.
SINGAPORE NOODLES IS NOT A THING
Do you actually see “Singapore Noodles” on the menu in Singapore? In hawker centres or Chinese restaurants? No? Because it’s not a thing! It’s a dish made up by people overseas.
YOU CAN BE GAY IN SINGAPORE
If you’ve heard that it’s illegal to be gay in Singapore, that’s because of Section 377A :
By law, two men cannot have sex. But there are lots and lots of gay people everywhere in Singapore. You’ll find them at home, in the office, in church, everywhere. What’s the government going to do? Arrest every single gay person and stop gay couples from being together? There are also gay people in parliament (although they’ll probably not boast about that), and in law enforcement. Singapore isn’t the Republic of Gilead; in fact, we have this annual event called Pink Dot, which celebrates inclusion and diversity in every form. The next Pink Dot happens July 21st at Speakers’ Corner, Hong Lim Park. If you’re wondering why Section 377A is still around, read this.
WE ARE A FINE CITY
This one is true. You litter, you get fined. And that’s why our streets are so clean. It’s wonderful.
WE HAVE THE DEATH PENALTY
Yes, true as well. You’ll be fine as long as you don’t murder, or bring in drugs or guns to Singapore.
HERE’S A LIST OF QUICK FACTS TO APPEAR LIKE YOU KNOW SINGAPORE :
1. It takes only 45 MINUTES to drive from one end of Singapore to the other in regular traffic conditions. Above is a map of Singapore and the distance from one end to the other.
2. We are the MOST EXPENSIVE CITY IN THE WORLD, and we’ve won that title for 5 years running. Five damn years. Mainly due to the ridiculous prices of our cars. To control the number of cars on the road, the Singapore government imposes a “Certificate Of Entitlement” that sometimes costs as much as the car itself. If you’re curious about the cost of certain cars in Singapore (like your own car), you can check them out here and then FREAK OUT.
3. Singapore is apparently the best country for children to grow up in.
4. Public housing can be very instagrammable. If you’re in Singapore, don’t just take pictures of Marina Bay Sands and those trees at Gardens By The Bay.
5. We came up with our own special version of English, which is called SINGLISH. It’s an incredibly efficient language. We shorten long, lengthy responses into single words, and every Singaporean understands it. You could say, we’ve improved the English language. In fact, Singlish is being studied around the world! Apparently, over the last decade, at least seven universities have used Singlish as a case study in linguistics courses. Swee!
6. Finally, Malay is Singapore’s national language. Don’t be confused. “National language” does not mean main language. Our main language is ENGLISH. WE SPEAK ENGLISH IN SINGAPORE.