Throughout the year Oxford English Dictionary always distributes a list of words that are being added and to the dictionary, hoping to increase the vocabulary of people around the world. During their March quarterly update, they had news that is quite exciting to Singaporeans, as they have included a total of 19 new “Singlish” (Singapore-English) terms.
Out of the 19 terms that they have released, some are only used in Singapore, others are borrowed from the Chinese language, and others are English words that might have an entirely new meaning in Singapore. This is quite interesting as it is the first time that Singapore-English words have been put into the dictionary. The 19 added words and their definitions include:
1. Ang moh: A Caucasian, someone who is a descendent of Western ancestry or someone who is light skinned.
2. Blur: Someone who is slow in understanding a concept. This person may be confused, unaware, or ignorant. It is typically reiterated to emphasize a point.
3. Char siu: A type of food. Roasted pork that is marinated in a sweet sauce and is sliced into thin strips.
4. Chilli crab: A dish that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia that includes crab in a sweet and spicy sauce that has tomatoes and red chilies included in the ingredients.
5. Chinese helicopter: A derogatory term for someone who learned in Mandarin Chinese and doesn’t have a lot of experience with the English language.
6. Hawker centre: A market where you can buy food from individual vendors.
7. HDB: The Housing and Development Board.
8. Killer litter: Objects that are thrown from high buildings that are dangerous to pedestrians.
9. Lepak (noun): Hanging around aimlessly or loitering.
10. Lepak (verb): To relax, loiter, or hang around aimlessly.
12. Shiok: An expression to show interest or approval.
13. Sabo (noun): Someone who goes out of their way to be an inconvenience or cause trouble or harm to another person, typically for personal gain.
14. Sabo (verb): To be a prankster and cause an inconvenience.
15. Sabo king: A prankster
16. Sotong: A cuttlefish or a squid.
17. Teh tarik: A drink that is a combination of milk and sweet tea mixed together.
18. Wah: A way to express encouragement, surprise, or admiration.
19. Wet market: A fresh market where you can buy fish and meat.
At this time you can contribute to the entries in the Oxford Dictionary by visiting OED’s website. They are currently looking to trace the origins of two specific words, “Sabo” and “Shiok”. If you have any relevant information about where these two words may have originated from, you can join their online community space and post any information you might have. The public will also be able to review the history and information of other words included on the site to contribute more information about the history of the language. This can help to ensure that every entry in the dictionary is relevant to Singapore culture and is correct when defined inside of the lexicon.