In celebration of the launch of Thermos® Singapore Exclusive Local Design Collection 2019 - Disney ‘Mickey Go Singapore’ series (our second collection!), we have assembled 8 Singaporean words to test your knowledge in Singlish. These unique motifs of Mickey Mouse and his accompanying lingos can be found on the designs of the Thermos® Disney ‘Mickey Go Singapore’ JNL-501DSS in White and JNO-500DSS in Strawberry Red.
Try to guess the definition of each slang (with the help of an example sentence) before reading up on the answer. Each correct answer is worth 1 point. Total them up at the end of the quiz and compare it against our scoreboard to determine your mastery level in Singlish. No cheating!
1. What’s the definition of Can Liao?
Example Sentence: “Eh, I have fixed your computer. Now Can Liao!”
Answer: Though Can Liao is often used together to mean ‘to be able to’, the focus on this slang is often towards the Liao. The ‘Liao’ slang translates directly to ‘already’, and is used as an emphasis for the verb before it. The slang is also used with different variations of verbs and can simplify long sentences like ‘I have already eaten’ to ‘Eat Liao’.
Alternate slang: Do Liao
2. What’s the definition of So Atas?
Example sentence: “The dining hall here is So Atas! There’s chandeliers, carpeted floors, gold-plated cutleries and there’s even a standing sushi bar as well!”
Answer: So Atas! Is derived from the Malay language of “upstairs”. It is used in a way to comment on individuals or anything that are high-class and of good taste. An example scenario of ‘So Atas!’ being used is when one recommends high-class lifestyle choices to their friends for a little treat-yourself.
Alternate slang: High-SES
3. What’s the definition of Abuden?
Example sentence: “Eh, the old auntie just tripped. Should I help her up?”
Answer: Abuden! is equivalent to the word “obviously”. It is a combination of Hokkien dialect of ‘A-bo’, meaning ‘if not’, and the English word, ‘then’.It is used in scenarios when an obvious answer is required to answer your friends’ unnecessary questions.
Alternate slang: Duh! or Abo!
4. What’s the definition of Alamak?
Example sentence: “Alamak! I’ve forgotten to bring my reusable spoon for lunch! Now I have to starve.”
Answer: A Malay-translated slang to express a shock or surprise. It used to be extremely popular during the early 20th century but was soon overshadowed by the newer slang of ‘Oh My Goodness!’. Alamak! has been used regularly in comedy television series such as ‘Comedy Nite’ and ‘The Noose’.
Alternate slang: OMG
5. What’s the definition of Relak lah?
Example sentence: “Eh, Relak lah! Why rush when there’s 5 more minutes to the last train?”
Answer: By embracing the love for English mispronunciation, Singaporeans have transcended the word ‘relax’ to ‘relak’. Both the word and the slang signifies a temporary break or to cool off from anxiety.
Alternate slang: Chill bruh
6. What’s the definition of Can Or Not?
Example sentence: “I’ve just finished my painting for the submission. I’m aiming for A1, do you think Can Or Not?”
Answer: ‘Can Or Not’ is used when one requires a second opinion to the subject in question. It translate to ‘Can it be done?’ in English and the answer that follows will often be a ‘Can’ or a ‘Cannot’.
Alternate slang: Can Anot
7. What’s the definition of Huat Ah?
Example sentence: “I won two-hundred thousand dollars from yesterday’s lottery ticket. Huat ah!”
Answer: A unique slang in Hokkien dialect often used by the Singaporean Chinese community to welcome prosperity. You can hear chants of ‘Huat Ah!’ during Chinese New Year in restaurants and homes as they mix a plate of cut fish with multiple sweet and savoury sides. Those wanting to experience this spectacle, do remember that it happens annually between end-January to mid-February.
No alternate slang is found.
8. What’s the definition of Add Oil?
Example sentence: “I have faith in you to finish all the food from the buffet pot. Add oil. We cannot afford to pay for the food wastage penalty.”
Answer: ‘Add Oil’ came about from the Chinese characters of 加油! (Jia You!). Though it signifies ‘you can do it’ or ‘work hard’ for both the English and Chinese context, Add Oil came about from the separation of the two Chinese characters: 加 means add while, 油 means oil.
Alternate slang: “Fighting!” (in a cute voice).
Score Sheet: How many points did you get?
8 Points: Wah Congrats! You are a true-blue Singaporean! Now go forth and spread the word about the amazing language of Singlish!
6-7 Points: A but not A+ Singaporean - if this is a real test, your Asian mother will almost be proud of you. Strive for the Asian full marks next time!
4-5 Points: An Average Singaporean. Good try but not the best - just hang out at your local coffee shops and HDB blocks to immerse yourself in the loud chatters of fantastic Singlish! Take it slow, don’t be a kan cheong spider.
2-3 Points: Not Singaporean Enough leh. While there may be other aspects of life that you’re excelling at, a life using Singlish may not be for you. But no worries - at least you know these 8 slang words as a start!
0-1 Point: Err, you must be a Foreigner taking this test, right? Don’t be sad (if you aren’t) for not knowing these slang words though - perhaps, you are just way too atas for it!
“Yam Seng” with Mickey Anytime, Anywhere
Thermos® Disney ‘Mickey Go Singapore’ series features the iconic Mickey mouse bringing Singlish lingo (“so atas,” “can meh,” “super garang”) to life. Mickey gets caught in the act of enjoying well-loved local snacks such as Curry Puff, Nasi Lemak and Ice Bandung.
An endearing yet practical collectible, the series includes the Ultra-Light Thermos® JNL-501DSS Disney ‘Mickey Go Singapore’ One-Push Tumbler in White with a removable spout for easy cleaning while the Thermos® JNO-500DSS in Strawberry Red and JNO-501DSS Disney ‘Mickey Go Singapore’ Tumbler in Black features 160-degree twist-open cap. All three tumblers are 0.5L and leak-proof.