Monday, August 11, 2008

Some Sundry Singaporeanisms

In Singapore it is common to see words and phrases enclosed within quotes for the purpose of emphasis and nothing more.

In the above sign, the writer obviously wishes to emphasize that the house is new, yet the quotes suggest that the claim is somewhat misleading or dishonest — it is as if he were saying the house is ‘so-called “new”’ when it was in fact completely rebuilt.

In the long-established Motoring magazine, emphatic quotes proliferate like a disease:

Now for another Singaporeanism: What does the word ‘live’ mean?

An animate object that is live would probably be moving — but how can a crab be live when it’s all hacked up and shrink-wrapped? Evidently, to some Singaporeans, live means something like ‘fresh, never frozen’.

Finally, something from the Straits Times (9 August 2008): ‘The alphabet “b” is for commissioners registered in Selangor’. The word needed here was letter, not alphabet. In Standard English, the word alphabet refers to the entire set of letters from a to z.


Gillian said...

I supposed we can be a little more 'accommodating' here since it is Singapore English at work in The Straits Times? Haa.

The Grammar Terrorist said...

Hi, Gil

Yes, I know, but I do think the word is clearly wrong here!

Because then there'd be no distinction between a single letter and the entire set of 26 ... big difference!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Prof
I have to agree with you on the " X " issue. Such signs are all over the streets and like the example " New" you quoted, it really sounds ridiculous. But perhaps he really meant it as "New", as in factually it isn't. This way, there won't be any future disputes in court after the seven-month friends pay the new owner a visit.

The Grammar Terrorist said...

Hmm, I think he might have used "new" with quotes if it were a renovated house, but this one was completely rebuilt from the ground up ... formerly it had two storeys, but now it has three. So, only the plot of land on which it stands is old.