I’m starting to talk like a Malay, lah!

One of the things you hear a lot both here and in Singapore is a fluency with several languages. Specifically, English, Indian languages, Chinese languages, and Malaysian/Indonesian, which are basically the same language save for a few different words and phrases.

Singapore actually has four languages that all signs are posted in, and here, like there, many people can speak two or more of the languages, which makes perfect sense, given that they are surrounded by them constantly.

But a favorite expression is the word lah! which is added at the end of sentences. For example, a teenager said to his brother at the monorail station, “Coming, lah!” as it approached. And a group of women conversed with each other and a man, in a mixture of Chinese, Malaysian, and English, at the next table. They seemed to be co-workers in an office or something, but one said to the other, “You always order the same thing, lah!”

I must be hearing it a lot around me, because yesterday when I went to pay for my internet time, I couldn’t find my wallet. The place has all the windows covered, and the only light is one dim bulb on the wall above the front desk, and the brightly lit faces of the computer users. I put my bag on the desk and began fishing around, then said, “Too dark, lah!


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