Singlish is an English-based creole spoken in Singapore that developed as a result of prolonged contact between speakers of a variety of languages, particularly Hokkien, Malay, Cantonese, Teochew and Tamil, as well as English. Singlish is also known as Singaporean English, Colloquial Singaporean English or Singapore Colloquial English.

After Singpore came under British rule in the early 19th century, schools were set up that taught in English. A pidgin soon emerged, particularly among the working classes, who mixed the bits of English they picked up with parts of their own languages. This pidgin became the informal lingua franca of Singapore. Once children started acquiring it as a native language, it developed into a creole with its own vocabulary and grammar.

The Singapore govenment perceives Singlish as a form of "broken English" and discourages its use. Since the year 2000 they have launched several campaigns to encourage Singaporeans to "Speak Good English".

Singlish can be heard regularly on Singaporean TV and radio, and sometimes appears in local newspapers. Its use is officially discouraged in schools, however it is often used anyway. In formal contexts, such as meetings, presentations and job interviews, English is generally used, while Singlish is common in informal settings.

The first person to write in Singlish, and to develop a spelling system for it, was Sylvia Toh Paik Choo (杜白秋), and her first book about Singlish, Eh Goondu!, which was published in 1982. Other books in and about the language have been published since then.

Singlish alphabet and pronunciation

Singlish alphabet

Download an alphabet chart for Singlish (Excel)

Information about the Singlish alphabet supplied by Wolfram Siegel

Sample videos in and about Singlish


Information about Singlish

Creole languages

Betawi, Bislama, Cape Verdean Creole, Chavacano, Chinook Jargon, Dominican Creole French, Fanagalo, French Guianese Creole, Guadeloupean Creole, Guinea-Bissau Creole, Haitian Creole, Jamaican, Kituba, Manado Malay, Mauritian Creole, Nagamese, Ndyuka, Norfuk, Nubi, Palenquero, Papiamento, Pijin, Réunion Creole, Sango, Saramaccan, Seychelles Creole, Sierra Leonean Creole, Singlish, Sranan, Saint Lucian Creole, Tok Pisin, Torres-Strait Creole

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page created: 10.09.21. Last modified: 23.11.21


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