SINGAPORE: Is Singlish on the decline? This is the question a netizen posed as they expressed worry about fewer and fewer people using it. They went on to ask if others have seen the same, especially among younger generations.

Redditor u/what_the_foot wrote in a r/askSingapore post from earlier this week that in comparison with 10 or 20 years ago, people are speaking Singlish less.

“I mean the PCK type Singlish with lots of Malay and Hokkien words thrown in, like ‘eh I makan liao’ or ‘wah this damn shiok la’ etc,” they explained.

Younger Singaporeans, the post author explained, speak English with a Singaporean pronunciation and accent but added that “it is not the type of Singlish that was familiar.” They also said that even people in their 30s to 50s, who grew up with Singlish and should be well-versed in it, are using it less.

In an edit to the post, u/what_the_foot wrote that they feel that “people don’t really add simple words like lah, leh, and liao to their sentences these days.”

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The post has gotten a lot of comments, with some saying they believe that Singlish is not declining, but merely evolving, as all languages do.

However, one Gen Z commenter said they believe Singlish “is in a slow decline” among younger people, in large part due to the incorporation of more Western slang that Gen Z and Gen A adapt from using TikTok.

And when one commenter wrote that more and more people speak a mixture of Mandarin and English, many agreed. One wrote that old Singlish terms like “obiang, obit, norchat, and tackle” are no longer being used.

The Independent Singapore spoke to author Gwee Li Sui, who wrote the first book on Singlish written in Singlish, to get his take on the matter.

“Ha, got decline meh? maybe if you mix with only peepur of your own kind – ie. same culture, same education level, same kind of job, same age group, same interests, etc. – then you can say what you wan lah, haha,” he wrote us, Mr Gwee-style.

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When asked if he feels that younger Singaporeans are losing their Singlish, he told us that this is “aiyah natural lah,” given that they are mostly occupied with school and social media. However, as they grow older, enter the working world and mix with uncles and aunties, or struggle to talk to older Singaporeans at kopitiams “then maybe their Singlish will kick in” and they’ll come to appreciate it.

“Singlish won’t die one,” Mr Gwee told us, calling it a “subconscious thinking language.”

“It’s about continuity (between generations) and harmony (between groups). when you participate in these spaces, you’ll find Singlish there.” /TISG

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