Singlish: That's Bad English

  • Melisse Claireneth Liwag University of California, Davis


Growing up in Singapore, I used to say sentences like "Don't be like that lah!" when reprimanding my sister or "Do this for what?" when questioning someone's actions. My use of Singlish, an English dialect spoken in Singapore, was usually corrected by my parents and teachers to Standard English. However, I felt that it was wrong to say that Singlish is broken or bad. Each Chinese-influenced Singlish word – lah, lor, or hor – at the end of sentences conveys a particular meaning. Those words cannot be ordered in other ways. My conflict in thinking about languages reflects the two ways of approaching language in linguistics: a descriptive attitude or a prescriptive attitude.

Author Biography

Melisse Claireneth Liwag, University of California, Davis
Melisse Claireneth Liwag is currently pursuing a double major in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience emphasis) and Psychology at the University of California, Davis. A deep passion of hers is to connect to my Filipino roots while learning more about other cultures’ languages and customs. Her other interests include going on exciting food adventures with family and friends, and watching funny online videos in the comfort of her own home.
How to Cite
LIWAG, Melisse Claireneth. Singlish: That's Bad English. Undergraduate Journal of Contemporary Issues and Media, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, oct. 2018. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 16 nov. 2018.