S’POREAN CHINESE STOLE TAMIL WORDS AIYAH, AIYOH & USED IT AS SINGLISH

Dear Editors,

This Singaporean-Indian lady gives an interesting perspective about Singlish and say that the Indian and Malay aspects of Singlish were stolen by the Chinese majority and appropriated for their own use. One example of which is Aiyoh and Aiyah which Ms Sangeetha claims to be from Tamil but were stolen by the Chinese and act as though it was Hokkien or a chinese dialect.

I am not an expert in languages but I do know in Chinese language, there is this word 哎呀 (Ai-Ya) which is used to express surprise or blame. So maybe what Ms Sangeetha says is not entirely true and there is some evidence to show that "Aiyah" has links to the Chinese language in addition to its roots to the Tamil language.

Ms Sangeetha doing research on Singlish and its roots is very commendable and I hope she will continue to pursue this research. However, I do hope she will give Chinese Singaporeans some benefit of the doubt and not generalize Chinese as thieves who steal things from minorities. We can definitely have a civil debate on the epistemology of Singlish without ad hominem.

Becca Li 

A.S.S. Contributor

Facebook netizen Sangeetha Thanapal shared: "So let's get something straight. 'Aiyoh' and 'Aiyah' are Tamil words that are part of Singlish-but in Singapore people act as if it's actually Hokkien (or from a Chinese dialect). It's not. When you're exclaiming 'Aiyah' that's a Tamil word you're using there. Chinese racists, try not to trip over yourselves the next time you say it k?"

"In Singapore Chinese people use it and pretend it is part of Hokkien or something right? And then they'll say there aren't any Tamil words in Singlish. Chinese people-cannot stop stealing things from minorities and calling it their own right?"

"When Singlish had more Malay words in it in the 80s and 90s it was considered as classless and we were told not to speak it. Now that it has been properly hegemonized by Chinese words to the point where the Malay words are all but gone, now it's suddenly celebrated by the literati as an important form of language in Singapore's culture and history."

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