Invading travellers who try to be local

In one of our last posts, we featured some numbers in relations to the movement of people on this planet for leisure purpose. By now we are wary of calling it travel or touring. As you know there IS a difference in the minds of some! Fine.

Mel recalled a semestral course he did on social pyschology many years ago. “Verstehen” as a concept introduced to him as a young student (yeah we were young once too!) meant to put yourself in another person’s shoes so to speak – to understand deeper, ie from the perspective of that person.

So applying this concept, it is interesting to theorize how the local folks who live in some of the world’s most sought after leisure destinations feel about the ‘non locals’ that appear in their midst – sometimes attempting to be like a local (Read Chiseche’s post here on ‘the settler’).

You know, in every country the local language has its own colloqualism, slang, whatever. In our little red dot, the locally mangled form of English (fondly called ‘Singlish’) can be dumbfounding, weird or downright hilarious to those native speakers of her majesty’s tongue. Such examples include the use of the word “lah” in daily speech.

Defined as a slang rightly or not, it is used lavishly in many (not all lah) sentences uttered by the local Singaporean. However, lest you think that it is simply attaching it at the end of any sentence, think again. Listen very carefully (ok read), for we shall only say (write) this once : the use of “lah” is a linguistic evolutionary development of the highest order in our opinion.

Like the F word which is most versatile, “lah” can be used to emit a range of emotions and meanings through emphasis, perhaps these are examples (not perfect):

  • Don’t be like that lah (frustration)
  • Ok lah (it’s alright)
  • Cannot lah!! (possibly upset)
  • No lah (disbelieve)

If ever you are in Singapore and plan to stay longer as a “traveler” who thinks you have become a local, do refrain from using lah too often. It’s just too strange! LOL.

We are sure you have local expressions that that are versatile like the ‘lah’. Care to share them?

Author: Mel & Suan

Mel works his day job for a living, but lives for antiquities, history and geography at all other times. He enjoys writing and thought sharing and obviously traveling. Suan is a homey person, who like girlie stuff such as cross stitching etc. Enjoys shopping & modeling for Mel. What a match!

13 thoughts on “Invading travellers who try to be local”

  1. These words will be useful for my next visit to Singapore 🙂 I think the Chinese also add “lah” or “le”(depend on the regions) at the end of a sentence too. Just as you said, my Chinese teacher also told me these words has no meaning at all, but people use it to express emotion and to emphasise the meaning of the sentence. Typical example: 好了= OK lah 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Still haven’t decided yet 🙂 Because I will move back to Vietnam soon, it won’t be difficult for me to make a weekend trip to Singapore. The last time I was there I got a minor food poisoning (probably from the chicken rice at Marina Bay Sands food court), so I could only see a few places 😦

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes. Our little island has many migrants from all over though majority hail from southern China. And when the British ruled our island as a colony, English was the rule of law. So these migrant folks had to try their best to learn an otherwise foreign tongue, coming up with their own phonetic equivalents. Sort of like the patois in creole in the Caribbean!

      Liked by 1 person

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