Singdarin / Singnese 新加坡式华语 / 新加坡式華語 xīnjiāpō huáyǔ
新加坡本土华语 / 新加坡本土華語xīnjiāpō běntǔ huáyǔ
星式中文 xīngshì zhōngwén
Spoken in Singapore Native speakers no statistics yet Language family Language codes ISO 639-3 None
Life in Singapore
Colloquial Singaporean Mandarin, also known as Singdarin (simplified Chinese: 新加坡式华语; traditional Chinese: 新加坡式華語; pinyin: Xīnjiāpōshì Huáyǔ) is an interlanguage native to Singapore. In Taiwan, this language variety is known as Singnese (Chinese: 星式中文; pinyin: Xīngshì Zhōngwén). It is based on Mandarin but has a large amount of English in its vocabulary. For this reason, Singdarin is sometimes known as "Anglo-Chinese". There were also words from Malay and other Chinese languages.
Singdarin is the first language of quite a number of younger Singaporeans, especially those whose parents speak different languages at home. Singdarin is spoken colloquially on streets and among teenagers in Singapore. In general, well-educated Chinese Singaporeans are able to code-switch between Singdarin and Standard Mandarin.
Singdarin grammar is usually identical to Chinese Mandarin. In some circumstances, there is code-switching with English. Singdarin vocabulary consists of a large number of words from English, Hokkien, and Malay, among other languages, often when speakers do not know the Mandarin equivalent of what they wish to express, and instead use English words to convey the meaning.
Native Chinese from China or native Taiwanese from Taiwan generally find it difficult to understand Singdarin due to large number of English or Non-Mandarin words used. The Singaporean government currently discourages the use of Singdarin in favour of Standard Singaporean Mandarin as it believes in the need for Singaporeans to be able to communicate effectively with the other native Chinese from China or Taiwan.
Like its Singlish equivalent, Singdarin evolved because many Singaporean-Chinese families come from mixed language environments. For instance, children may be raised in households in which one parent speaks English while the other speaks Chinese.
Singdarin has also evolved largely because Singapore is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society. One of the most important policies of the Singaporean government is to ensure social and multi-ethnic harmony. Therefore, instead of letting certain ethnic groups to live in an isolated community like they did in the past, the Singapore government encourages the majority of Singaporeans to live in HDB flats that have now become a melting pot of Chinese, Malays, Indians and other different ethnicity who speak different languages. This is believed to reduce differences between the diverse linguistic and ethnic groups in Singapore.
As the majority of Singaporeans live in HDB flats, which have families coming from various linguistic, racial and ethnic background, there is a tendency for different languages to be mixed in order to facilitate more effective communication between the different races. In short, it leads to the creation of a hybrid culture (known colloquially as a "rojak" culture).
This and the tendency for the Singaporean Chinese people to use the mixed language that they use at home in daily colloqual conversation has since influenced the Mandarin spoken in schools, resulting in "Singdarin" being formed. It was in this environment that Singdarin was formed.
Examples of Singdarin (Anglo-Chinese) dialogue
Below are some examples of Singdarin dialogue spoken amongst some Chinese Singaporeans.
Singdarin (Anglo-Chinese) dialogue English translation Standard Mandarin 你的office 在 哪里？ Where is your office? 您的办公室在哪里？ Raffles Place. 很 靠近MRT.1 Raffles Place, located near the MRT station. 莱佛士坊，离地铁站不远处 你 在 那里work 多久 了？ How long have you been working there? 你在那里工作多久了？ 不 太 久Six months. 我 想find another job. Not long ago, 6 months, I'm thinking of finding another job. 不太久，六个月，我想找一份新的工作 Maybe 明年when 我complete 我的accounting course Maybe next year when I complete my accounting course 可能明年，当我完成我的会计课程 But 我 要 去 吃饭 But I'm going for my dinner 不过我要去吃饭
1 Usually the word 'station' is omitted.
The following are the common English loan words used in Singdarin.
English loanwords Standard Mandarin words Examples of usage But 不过/但是 But 他很聪明的！ (But he's very clever!) Then 然后 Then, 他就來了！ (Then he comes!) Actually 其实 Actually, 我本来要去的！ (Actually, I wanted to go there!) Share 共用/分/分享 呃! 蛋糕可以跟我share吗？ (Can you share your cake with me?) Blur 搞不清楚状况/模糊不清 你知道吗？他弄到我很blur! (Do you know he makes me very blur?) Anyway/Anyhow 无论如何/不管怎样 Anyway, 我都会去! (Anyway, I will go!) That's why 所以 That's why 我很讨厌他! (That's why I hate him!)
Loanwords from other languages
Just like Singlish, certain words used in Singlish are also interchangeably used in Singdarin.
Loanwords Standard Mandarin words Definition Notes Example of usage be tahan 受不了 cannot tolerate formed by combination of Hokkien word "beh 袂" (cannot) and Malay word "tahan" (tolerate) 哇！袂 tahan 咧! (wa, be tahan leh) [wow, cannot tolerate it leh] sibeh 非常 very/damn originate from Teochew and has the general meaning of 'damn'. sibeh 显！[very boring] walau eh 我的天啊！ my gosh/oh my god originate from Singaporean Hokkien vulgar word "gua lan eh 我老呃" (literally 'my father's (dick)'). "wa lau eh" is a more polite variant of it. walau eh, 你怎么可以这样？ [my god, how can you be like that?] guai lan 令人讨厌的家伙 annoying/irritating person originate from Singaporean Hokkien vulgar word "guai lan 怪膦" (literally 'strange dick'). 他sibeh guai lan的! [he is an annoying person!] sua ku 井底之蛙 someone who has not been exposed to the society and is not well-informed about many things from Hokkien word "suaku 山龟" (literally "tortoise on the mountain") 这个人很sua ku! [this guy is a tortoise on the mountain] salah 错/坏掉了 incorrect/something went wrong from Malay 电脑salah了 ! [something went wrong on computer] ulu 偏僻 remote from Malay 这个地方这么 ulu ，连个人影都没有! [that place is very remote, not a single person around!] terok 麻烦/困难 troublesome from Malay 那位顾客sibeh terok! [that customer is very troublesome!]
Usage of English technical terms
Since English is the main working and educational language of Singapore, many Chinese Singaporeans are more familiar with the English professional terminology (technical terms) used at work, rather than that of Mandarin. This led to many Chinese Singaporeans tending to mix large number of English professional terms into Mandarin at work, instead of using Chinese technical terms. As such, a form of Singdarin spoken at work appears, resulting in some degree of communication barrier at work between the Chinese Singaporeans and the Chinese from China or Taiwan.
Comparison between Singdarin spoken at work in Singapore and Mandarin spoken at work in China is shown below:
Singdarin spoken at work in Singapore  Mandarin spoken at work in China English translation 你的cable tray 要从 ceiling 上走。 你的电线桥架要在吊顶天花板上铺设。 Your cable tray needs to be lined up along the ceiling Server room 里面的 fire sprinkler 拆了，你们的 fire department 会allow吗？ 机房里面的消防喷淋拆了，你们的消防部门会批准吗？ If you dismantle the fire sprinkler inside the server room, will the fire department approve it?
Other terms associated with Singdarin
There are other terms associated with Singdarin such as "Broken Chinese", "Half-bucket" (半桶水） or "Half-past Six Chinese". These are the terms used by Singapore's Chinese language professionals to refer to the mediocre (or low) proficiency level of Mandarin language amongst certain Chinese Singaporeans. The terms describe that when measured against the 100% Standard Mandarin, certain Chinese Singaporeans are only 50-65% proficient in the Mandarin language.
Part of the reasons for these could be due to the widespread use of Singdarin in Singapore. Singdarin has led to the impression of "broken Chinese" or "bad Chinese", and is generally considered to be an adulterated form of Mandarin language. Speaking Singdarin is a natural linguistic habit derived from speaking a mixed language in the daily life of Singaporeans. However, the lower proficiency in Mandarin Chinese was mainly due to a lack of practice and exposure to more proper Chinese language, a lack of practice in speaking, hearing, reading and writing Chinese. This further led to a limited Chinese vocabulary or knowledge on Chinese cultural subjects, thus making it difficult for Singdarin speakers to speak pure Mandarin fluently. Singdarin speakers will generally find it difficult to communicate (at a higher level) if they were to communicate with native Chinese from China or Taiwan.
- Chinese Singaporean
- Singaporean Mandarin
- Standard Singaporean Mandarin
- Singaporean Hokkien
- Hokkien influence on Singaporean Mandarin
- Languages of Singapore
- ^ "中文·外来语来聚"掺"". 《三联生活周刊》. http://travel.163.com/06/0711/11/2LOEI16K00061Q2M.html. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
- ^ 顧長永 (Gu Changyong) (2006/07/25). 《新加坡: 蛻變的四十年》 (Singapore: The Changing Forty Years). Taiwan: 五南圖書出版股份有限公司. pp. 54. ISBN 978-957-11-4398-9.
- ^ "重视新加坡本土华语的文化意义 (Attending to the cultural significance of Colloquial Singaporean Mandarin)". 華語橋 (Huayuqiao). http://www.huayuqiao.org/articles/zhouzhaocheng/zhouzc01.htm. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
- ^ "新加坡式华语". 《联合早报网》. http://bbs.gd.gov.cn/thread-200238-1-1.html. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
- ^ "新加坡式华语". 《联合早报网》. http://bbs.gd.gov.cn/thread-200238-1-1.html. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
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