Thursday, January 11, 2007


During one of our level one Korean language class, a student asked our teacher, why is long-sleeved shirt read as '와이셔츠' (sound like 'white shirt') and not just '셔츠'? Our teacher replied, "It's Konglish". The class laughed because we instantly recognised with Konglish. Singaporeans have our Singlish too.

Since then, I have checked the wikipedia and confirmed that the word 'Konglish' does exist and is not a word invented by our teacher. In the process, I have also discovered that 아파트 (apartment) has its origin in Japanese language and 아르바이트 (part-time job) is from the German word 'Arbeit' (work).

I believe the evolution of Konglish should share many similarity with Singlish but there is one significant difference between the two forms - Konglish is accepted into the mainstream Korean language but Singlish is viewed as a corrupted form of English and its usage is discouraged. If I am to use food to describe Konglish and Singlish, Konglish is like 'bibimbap' (Korean mixed rice) and Singlish is like 'rojak' (local mixed fruit and vegetable salad).

Though the use is discouraged, if any foreigner can speak a bit of Singlish to any Singaporean, a close bond can immediately be built. I am not trying to promote Singlish here but for the fun of things I shall try to introduce a few interesting Singlish words and their usage.

1. 깨보 (kay-poh): busybody or nosy parker. 참견하기 좋아하는 사람.
I saw a big crowd at the market and being a "kay-poh" I squeezed in between them to find out what was happening.

2. 보볜 (bo-bian): no choice, no other option. 할 수 없음.
I am quite sleepy now but "bo-bian" I cannot because there is an examination tomorrow and I have yet to finish my study.

3. 시옌 (sian): bored, listless. 지루함, 마음 내키지 않음.
"Sian", I have nothing to do now.


  1. 하하하 ...

    I am very "sian" cos my blog is down. I cannot blog, i cannot switch to the new blogger version, basically i have not been able to do anything for the last 2 days!So "bo-bian", i have to be a "kap-poh" instead by reading other bloggers' blogs :)

  2. Spicebears, interesting way of expression. Hope I will be able to see your updates soon.

    Equinox 선생님, thank you for the 造句.^^

  3. "ALAMAK" you all so "TERUK" one. Use only hokkien singlish example, ah. I "TAK BOLEH TAHAN LAH".

    I give Manggish example now, ah....

    If you "JALAN" here, "JALAN" there in Singapore, everywhere also can hear people speak Manggish. Betul tak, Yesmaru?

    Just walk into a Kopitiam, sure can hear people say:

    "Uncle, Kopi Kosong, Loti kaya"


  4. A few years ago, a friend from Singapore visited Korea. She gave me a small book, "An essential guide to Singlish".
    On the cover, there's a short talk: "Do you speak English?" - "Of course lah! Singlish also can!"
    It's indeed interesting to know Singlish words and expressions:)

  5. Yes, Aini씨, Manggish is the root of Singlish, even Singapore national anthem is in Bahasa Melayu! ^^

  6. To Spicebears: 싱그리스로 만든 문장이 무척 재미있네요! 잘 하셨어요 ^^b

    To Song: Don't know that you know Singlish too. You the can man! (it means you are really good in Singlish). ㅋㅋㅋ

    To Aini: You are definitely right. "Jalan Jalan" is also a commonly-used Singlish expression.

    자란 자란(Jalan Jalan): sightseeing, a walk without a specific destination. 여기 저기 구경하다.
    When I arrived in Seoul, I went "Jalan Jalan" in Myeongdong because I heard that it is a good place for "Jalan Jalan".

    To Yesmaru: I don't think your Singlish is very good leh. Even though I know you have been staying in Singapore for quite some time, you still need some brushing up ;)