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Sunday, 30 October 2011

My England not Powderful (and what it means to financial freedom)

I love this Singlish phrase: My England not powderful.

It means "my English not powerful".

Although we may laugh ourselves silly and pride ourselves on our "Singlishness", there is also a not so funny side to it...

Imagine if you want to be a beauty queen, or a politician wannebe, and all you can speak is Singlish... Notice how our fellow "fake" Singlish speakers turn on these aspirants? It even borders on cyber bullying. And quite sad - not for the aspirants - but for the tormentors.

We are actually a bunch of bigots (whether we admit or not that's another matter). No? See how you react if your son or daughter brings home his/her partner that speaks only "powderful England" in real life... (The labelling of Bengs and Lians will come to mind)

Take for example the popular TV spoof: "The Noose" or popular websites that use Singlish as a medium for humourous communication. The actors and bloggers are in fact fluent in proper English. Make no mistake about it!!!

And that applies to most Singaporeans - we actually can speak proper English, if we want to.

It's the ability to switch from proper English to Singlish that gives us the comparative advantage over the "monolingual" speakers. It's no different from speaking a 2nd or 3rd language/dialect - be it Hokkien, Manadrin, or French.

It's an important distinction to make. Whether people are laughing with us, or at us.

How is this relevant to our journey towards financial freedom?

When getting advice (especially the we pay them kind) from others who are ever so glad to show us the "short-cuts", look carefully at these "shepherds" - are they sheep like us, or are they wolves in sheep skins, or are they humans telling us sheep what to do?

(I leave it to you to figure out why I find all 3 types of shepherds above distasteful and not suitable for me)

That also includes salespersons (like me)  who are able to switch to Singlish to build rapport, but all we really want is to make a sale. Like teenage boys sweet talking to the girls that all we really want is to be your "friend". Yeah, right!

Again, ask are they laughing with us, or at us.


  1. Hi SMOL

    Singlish is okay if we are taught the correct English at the start, i.e. grammatical English. My sister who is a primary school teacher shared with me to speak to my daughter since the day she is born in complete grammatical sentences.

    I've tried to do that and so far, it does help her speak grammatically, although we still use "ley" and other singlish slangs at home :-)

    The challenge is to have the foundation in grammatical English first then to be able to switch from proper English to Singlish. The risk is that those who do not have the foundation in grammatical English only have Singlish which doesn't work very well if you speak to non-Singaporeans people overseas.

    But Singlish is a way for Singaporeans overseas to bond as it's pretty distinct and differentiates us from Malaysians, Taiwanese, Hong Kongers, PRCs etc.

    Be well and prosper.

  2. 1) Hi Coconut,

    I sing song leh! Your right! After re-reading my post, I also say what talking me?

    2) Hello Panzer,

    Yes, believe me you, whenever I hear Singlish overseas, I feel so at home! It's a great way to bond with and identify fellow Singaporeans!

    When I see how the media mock Ris Low and some of our political hopefuls, the same bonding instrument has become an instrument to "label".

    Children learn very early that to fit-in, they have to speak and act the same way. Hence I suspect that's why parents have so much angst trying to get their kids into brand name schools...

    Mask wearer,
    Jared Seah


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