I once heard someone describe Singapore as “Asia for Beginners”. It’s true. Most everyone here speaks some English.
About the English part.
With such a diverse population, everyone speaks the language a bit differently. And that introduces minor inconsistencies in words and their meanings. Most of the time it’s not a big deal. But, for whatever reason, a few words seem to… distract me. Much more than they should.
Pity (pĭt’ē) – Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune, distress or suffering of another leading one to give relief.
Where I’m from, this word isn’t generally used lightly. It denotes something not-so-good has happened. Someone, somewhere is hurting. But, I’ve found people in Singapore use it much more casually. For example, read this email I received last week:
Whoa… was it THAT bad he missed the call? Okay. Maybe it was.
Nice (nīs) – Of good character and reputation; respectable. Having a pleasant or attractive appearance.
Easy enough, right? Usually there aren’t problems with this word. People and some things are nice. Got it. Except, when it comes to describing food. Most everyone in Singapore uses this word and it just sounds off. Food is good or great, not nice… right? Another email:
Maybe it’s just me. But, nice or not, it distracts me every time.
Would (wuh d ) – A past tense, present participle of will. Used to express the future in past sentences.
Another common word. But, sometimes I hear it used in a different way I’m not so used to. One more email:
See what I mean? I’m not an English expert, but I think it should only be used as a conditional tense for “will” – to give advice, to explain hypothetical situations or to give tentative options. Using it like this introduces a sense of uncertainty for me. Like, maybe he will revert… but, I’m not so sure he will.
Gentle Reminder –
Okay, two words. But, I see this adjective + noun combination quite often in Singapore, especially in common, every-day type communication. Another email:
For me, I’m used to “gentile reminder” being associated with a somewhat awkward topic. Like, “Umm, just a gentle reminder… you may want to use deodorant for your B.O.” But, in the example above I have no idea why it calls for a gentle reminder. Why gentle?