Six Singlish Terms Every Singaporean Should Know In The Office

Ever heard your colleagues utter something which you have no idea what it is? If you are new to the workforce, you will notice there are many different word slangs and lingo used at work.  Here are six commonly used words that every Singaporean should know:

1. Tai Chi

The ancient Chinese martial art where you execute moves to shift your ‘qi’ around or out of your body and dispel your body of toxins … that’s the common knowledge and that’s probably how the word is now used to describe when a co-worker swiftly shifts his work away from himself. And maybe to you.

2. Angkat

The word ‘angkat’ means to carry and often you’d hear ‘angkat bola’, meaning to ‘carry balls’. Not exactly good if the term was directed at you. In simple English, it means you’re a bootlicker.

3. Kena arrow

Especially with emails, it’s not uncommon to see people forwarding emails to another to help resolve or take charge of something. Or during the good old traditional meetings, to see your name being tasked and aligned to some projects by someone else. These essentially mean you kena “arrowed”. Which to illustrate an example, is like the arrow released by the archer landed on you – hence the term ‘arrow’.

4. Uncle (Company Name)

This term is often used when work expenses are charged to company without you paying a single cent. For example, “Don’t worry about the dinner, it’s on Uncle Apple.” If you’re confused when to use this term, just remember usually the only time you would address the company in such affectionate terms is when you get personal benefits.

5. Bao Ga Liao

When you cold call a potential client, meet the client, prepare the contract with the client, service the client, get scolded by the client, socialise and entertain with the client, do up with marketing plans and execute the marketing plans for the client, do the reporting for the client…when you do everything, your job is Bao ga liao. That is – covers everything. This term can be used on the job as well as the person, so if someone says you bao ga liao – it means you’re doing everything.

6. Spoil Market

“Don’t spoil market ley!” is used when someone does something more than what is needed, bordering on the exception instead of the norm. For example if the boss asks for your help to buy a packet of chicken rice for him, you buy the packet of chicken rice but also add in a packet of teh iced and a packet of tissue paper. If you do that, you’re simply damn spoil market.

When I’m not at work, I’m into the arts, music and history. Football’s my other big love so if I’m not around museums and galleries, I’m probably on the field. If I still can’t be found, I’m having my me time.