Singapore officially celebrates 50 years of independence in 2015, and in anticipation of this big milestone, 50 ‘uniquely Singaporean’ experiences, people and objects was put together in a list called Icons of SG as part of the SG50 celebrations. It’s a fun way for us locals to look at what makes Singapore so special, and for visitors to discover a different side of staid Singapore.
Here’s a video that explains more:
I think they did a great job of distilling our unique Singaporeaness is a way that’s relatable without being too touristy or cheesy about it. These are 3 of my favourite SG Icons, head on over to the IconsofSG website to see all the rest! For my non-Singaporean friends, if you have any questions about these colloquialisms, feel free to drop a note here and I’ll try to explain the context for you 🙂
In Singapore, every older woman you’re being polite to is called “Auntie”, whether she’s the elder lady selling you coffee, or your mum’s friend who plays mahjong with her. When you’re young, you can get away with calling anyone ‘Auntie’ or ‘Uncle’ (the male equivalent), though that gets increasingly harder as you age! Certain types of dressing and behaviour are ascribed to the Auntie, like poofy permed hair, traditional gold and jade jewelery, and patting the seat on the public bus or train really hard before sitting down.
Blur Sotong is what you call someone who doesn’t quite know what he’s doing. ‘Sotong’ is squid, and you usually call someone a ‘blur sotong’ or ‘blur like sotong’ when they ‘act blur’, which means they have a bit of a brain fart. In my head, I always imagined that this phrase emerged out of the fact that squid squirt out ink when they are threatened, ‘blurring the water’ as they try to make a rather haphazard escape – don’t take my word on that though!
I maintain that there are some feelings and emotions that the English language just can’t describe well enough, and one of them is this “Shiok” feeling (say ‘she-oak’ as one word, and with an emphatic sound), something you say when you’re feeling good. Good doesn’t begin to describe the satisfaction that Shiok entails though! To really get the gist of it, you have to go “Shiok ah!”
My lovely readers from Singapore, what’s your favourite SG Icon?