Me no speak English. Me speak Singlish.

A couple of weeks ago, a Malaysian girl called our office and I happened to pick the phone up. Here’s how the conversation went (not the exact same words, but more or less):

Me: (Insert company name), Good Morning.

Girl: Hi, do you have any vacancy for Graphic Designer?

Me: *was a bit shocked by the way she asked such question right away* Erm… Sorry, may I know who’s on the line?

Girl: Oh, my name is XXX, I’m calling to ask whether there’s a position for Graphic Designer. Where can I send my resume to ar?

Me: Oh, please hold the line

*At this point of time I put the call on hold and talked to my colleague beside me. She told me to give that girl her email address*

Me: Halo, you can send your resume to (insert colleague’s email address)

Girl: *repeats the spelling of the email address

Me: Yes, that’s correct.

Girl: Oh ya, maybe you can arrange an interview for me? Because I am going to Singapore next week, so maybe I can go to your office and show my portfolio lah.

Me: Err…I think you send your resume to the email address I’ve given you just now. We’ll let you know if there’s anything.

Girl: Oh, ok lor. Thank you ar.

Me: You’re welcome.

Ermm I think I made it sounds less Manglish than how it was supposed to be. Hahahaha.

She didn’t send her resume though. Then, a week after that, she called again, and I happened to pick up the call again.

Me: *Usual phone greeting lah*

Girl: Hi, this is XXX, may I speak to the HR please?

Me: May I know what is it regarding about?

Girl: I already sent my resume the other day, and I’m going to Singapore tomorrow. So maybe you can arrange an interview for me hor, then I can come and show my portfolio lar.

Me: Oh, please hold the line

*Pass the phone to my colleague in charge. LOL*

Ok, so basically my colleague didn’t receive her email, and she said that we didn’t have any vacancy for Graphic Designer.

And again, I think I made it sounds less Manglish.

Ok, if I’m the boss, I don’t think I would even consider her to work for my company at all. Why? First of all, she used Manglish to speak on the phone when she was calling enquiring about job opportunity. It’s just so unprofessional.

I do speak Singlish too, but I always try to use proper English when I am making calls regarding something important, or when I am dealing with certain people.

And this girl simply “hor”, “lah”, and whatever when she was asking about job vacancy -_-

If you’re the employer, will you invite an applicant who speaks Singlish/Manglish to you before/during the interview?

Just imagine:

Employer: So, tell me more about yourself.

Applicant: I’m 23 years old. I graduated from Uni already liao. Then hor, I have a sister and a brader (brother) at home. Both of them are 26 and 27 years old, so I’m the youngest child lar. It’s so shiok become the youngest child cos my parents and my brader and sister always pamper me one. (–>Wah I think if someone said this kind of thing during an interview, then he/she can say bye-bye to the job already).

Employer: Why do you want to work in Singapore? (assuming he/she is not from Singapore)

Applicant: Because Singapore is a very advance country mah. So I hope I can find a better opportunity here lor.

Employer: So do you know how to operate xxxxx (Insert software/hardware names)

Applicant: Of cos I know lor. That one I got study in Uni, so of cos I can operate them lar.


Woah man, if I am the employer, I think I’ll cut her interview right away and thank her for coming. Lol.

Ok, speaking of Mang/Singlish (both of them are generally the same though), there’s actually something interesting about them. There are a number of suffixes in Singlish (I use Singlish since I’m in Singapore), and the most common ones are: lar, liao, lor, leh, mah, meh, har, hor.

Here are some examples of the usage (taken from here):

“It’s mine lar.”
“Yes, yes, its mine, you can stop asking now.”

“lar” creates a feeling of very slight annoyance in response to a query.

“It’s mine lor.”
“Yeah, its mine.”

“lor” indicates nonchalance, as if the speaker is not really interested in the question. It can also be used when the answer is so obvious it need not be mentioned at all.

“It’s mine liao.”
“I just made it mine a while ago, so yes, its mine.”

“liao” retains the same meaning as the Mandarin word of the same sound. Indicates something that has happened in the past, that there has been a completion of a task of sorts.

“It’s mine leh.”
“Hey, its mine!”

“leh” is used when countering a previous statement. In the example above, the sentence could be used after somebody else mkes claim to the object in question, or when the person speaking originally believes the object to belong to someone else, and suddenly realises it is his. Use of “leh” usually means that somebody is wrong somewhere.

“It’s mine mah.”
“Yup, it’s mine, that’s why I’m taking it home.”

“mah” is similar to “lor” and can sometimes be used interchangably. However, it is used when the statement is an explanation, and does not carry the I-couldn’t-care-less feel that “lor” implies. It does express that the speaker believes this explanation is good enough for the listener and no further elaboration is required.

“It’s mine meh?”
“Huh? It’s mine? Are you sure?”

“meh” is identical to the Mandarin “ma” mentioned earlier. It is used to suffix questions, with the added suggestion that the speaker is in a state of disbelief.

“It’s mine har.”
“This is mine, it belongs to ME.”

“har” stresses the importance of the sentence, in a “don’t you forget it” manner, without the hostility.

“It’s mine hor?”
“This is mine… I think. Do you think so too?”

“hor” has three meanings. When used in a query, it is suggesting to the listener that an acknowledgement is required.

When used at the end of a sentence, it is generally identical to “har”, except it is slightly more hostile (“This is mine hor, don’t touch it!”).

When used in between phrases (“So hor, he climbed up the stairs hor, and then opened the door”), its meaning is a bit hard to describe. Think of it more as a transitive sound, such as the “eh” and “hmm” that are used in English at times.


Kinda interesting, huh? With a different suffix, the meaning will be totally different! The magic of Singlish!

But I guess you really need to understand the meaning of each suffix before you start to use Singlish. Otherwise, this is how you’ll sound like:


Picture taken from somewhere I forgot


Click here if you’d wish to learn some Singlish vocabulary.

Wapiang! It’s 12:30am oredi. I need to sleep oredi. Hope tonight I can hao hao shui jiao. If not hor, tomoro I can be cranky one if not enough sleep! If I’m cranky hor, I can be angry. Damn jialat one!

Baibai!~
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3 thoughts on “Me no speak English. Me speak Singlish.

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