SINGAPORE: One local Reddit user seemed to be perplexed as to why some Singaporeans appeared to change their accents after just a short time in either the US or the UK.

“I knew some acquaintances who suddenly speak like Amos Yee after spending a short holiday in USA, which I find it very strange. were they struck down by foreign accent syndrome? or just pure admiration? just 2 weeks overseas and they insist on slanging with angmoh accent in Sg?,” wrote u/pondofchilli on r/SingaporeRaw on Tuesday (Feb 21).

A lively discussion ensued in the comments, with many Reddit users weighing in.

A number of netizens guessed that some Singaporeans change their accents in order to be understood.

One wrote, “Ya man, Singapore English sounds very out of place when you’re conversing with Caucasians. It’s like some boomer who dropped out of primary school trying to tell you something.”

“Facts.. Ever been on a conference call listening to british/us/australian/whatever speaking and then a SG person says something? God its like suddenly listening to nails on a chalkboard,” wrote another netizen.

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One person who had spent some time overseas said that it was a matter of adapting to another country.

“It’s alot better to just change your accent when you are there for an extended period of time, there’s no secret – it is how it is,” wrote another.

“Switch so people can understand. It’s not that complicated,” one pointed out.

A Reddit user made the important point that, “everyone code switch(es) in different setting. You just don’t realise you do.”

“It sounds like you’ve never stayed for an extended period of time in a western country before? The people there will often struggle to understand the Singaporean accent, you’ll find yourself subconsciously adopting their ways of speaking so you can be understood,” a netizen told the post author.

In a CNA commentary in 2018, Dr Tan Ying Ying, an Associate Professor of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at the School of Humanities in Nanyang Technological University, wrote, “The Singaporean accent has always been a distinctive feature of Singapore English speakers and I am not talking about Singlish here.

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In recent years however, I have noticed that some Singaporeans are speaking English with a somewhat ‘foreign’ accent. I have also received queries from concerned observers about why more and more Singaporeans are sounding ‘fake’.”

If you’re interested, you can read the rest of Dr Tan’s commentary here.


Netizen says they’ve always been embarrassed by the Singaporean accent and Singaporean English