Singlish is a curious mix of English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Hokkien. With an English base, it borrows words liberally from all of these languages, adds in the Chinese (lack of) grammar, all rendered in a lovely Singaporean twang. The beauty of Singlish lies in its brevity. When we would normally say, 'Have you eaten your meal yet?', locals here say, 'Got makan onnot?', resulting in a grand saving of 3 syllables. Or better still, 'Are you sure it is possible?' becomes an elegant 'Can meh?'.Because Singlish is such a melange of different languages and dialects, excessive fluency in any of those languages, especially English, tends to "upset the balance" and makes you sound, well, like a "katang" (potato, connotes a Westerner). If you pepper your conversation with words of three syllables or more, for example, you might be greeted with a "Wah, your england vely the powderful, ah?" (You are quite proficient in English, aren't you?) in response.
The typical Singaporean may or may not be fluent in proper English, but the general consensus is that to sound really Singaporean, your English pronounciation shouldn't be too perfect.
So in short, bad English is good Singlish.
But how does one sound local? One way is to deliberately mispronounce certain words to sound more Singlish. In that way, no one can accuse you of being a katang because you're not speaking like one.
Examples here are from the following browncast:
[TMBS-050407-PT1 03:31] brown: "They say your muscles (mus-kerls) look like hunk, not punk"
[TMBS-050407-PT1 06:29] brown: "Singapore fashion festival ends with lingerie (leen-ger-ree) show"
[TMBS-050407-PT1 09:23] brown: "For those don't speak Cantonese one ah, I translate (trans-rate) for you"
[TMBS-050407-PT1 10:12] miyagi: "I think MediaCorps (media-corpse) is giving bonus"
[TMBS-050407-PT1 14:03] brown: "Canada (ker-nay-der)? Isn't that north of America (er-meh-dee-ker)?
Though it takes some practising to know which words to mispronounce and when, mastering this essential skill will definitely score you points with the heartlanders. No doubt about it.
So until next time,
Tua Kay Or Singlish....*ting*