As a possible bid to get soothe Singaporean sentiments following the rather troubled run of broadway hit musical Les Miserables and get more locals to come see the show, a video featuring cast members attempting to decode popular Singlish terms has been released by its official Facebook page.
The highly-acclaimed and anticipated production faced its first blow of controversy when its opening show was mysteriously cancelled, enraging fans who had managed to clinch tickets when sales opened last November. The organiser’s offer was that replacement tickets for other days could be given, but expectedly, and fully understandably, the angry mob was not appeased.
Soon, another bump in the road emerged, and became a hot topic for quite a while in June – yes, the ‘controversial’ same-sex kiss and even more controversial cutting out of it, which brought about an emergence of a clear divide between Singaporeans, and even more so, the stance of government agencies on such topics.
Regardless, as with all controversies and incidents that happen in Singapore, we’re still a crowd that loves our laughs and our Singlish (though some might disagree).
“Cheemology” = “The Study Of Chee”
The video, posted on Saturday (25 June), has so far garnered over 5000 shares and 206,000 views, making it a viral hit – although whether it translated to more ticket sales is a question yet to be answered.
The predominantly Australian cast was seen attempting to explain commonly used Singlish terms like “abuden”, “cheemology”, “shiok” and “aiyah”.
The results? Absolutely hilarious!
For example, “shiok”, a term to describe something which is delightful (for example, “Ice cream is so shiok in this hot weather!”), was mistaken to be a rude word, and “aiyah”, a term similar to ‘Oh no!’ (for example, “Aiyah! I woke up late again.”), was guessed to be “A lovely girl’s name.”
Singlish, a mix of local languages and dialects is an unofficial language that has both confused and intrigued non-Singaporeans, and the cast’s logical approach to deduce them, for example, “cheemology” = “the study of chee” (incorrect, but logical nonetheless), makes the video even more interesting, because it gets us to marvel at how such a unique, yet commonplace slang was developed in the first place.
To give the cast credit, they managed to get some of the terms right, with actor Simon Gleeson who plays main protagonist Jean Valjean proudly declaring his correct definition of “aiyah” as “That’s what I say when I hit my hand with a hammer”.
Perhaps he encountered a local cast or crew member exclaiming it during rehearsals?
Singlish Is The New Black
On June 23, a video featuring actress Uzo Aduba (who plays intimidating inmate Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren) demonstrating how local phrases would fit into fictional penitentiary Litchfield in hit tv show Orange Is The New Black was also uploaded onto Netflix Asia’s Youtube channel.
Featuring Singlish phrases Singaporeans used when enraged and annoyed, Aduba impressed with her almost spot-on accent in renditions of catchphrases such as “xiao char bor” and “We steady ah? Sua.”, complete with the appropriate accompanying gestures.
With Singlish being such a big part of Singaporean identity, it’s definitely heartening to see how we are not only embracing it, but also introducing it to others from other the world as a uniquely local feature which adds flavour to our culture – just remember to use it at appropriate times.