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Tooltips Categories SPEECH

work

DEFINITION The Mandarin term “做工” is commonly used in Singapore to refer to working. ETYMOLOGY In Singapore, the term “做工” is used to refer to work performed by both white-collar and blue-collar workers. Actually, “做工” mainly refers to the labour performed by blue-collar workers. The corresponding Mandarin term for office work or more intellectual labour is “工作”. The term “做工” has two meanings in Mainland China. The first refers to work that requires physical labour, such as industrial work, or…

High cost

DEFINITION Referring to a large amount of cost. ETYMOLOGY In the Hokkien (Minnan) dialect, the term “重本” means “a large amount of capital”. In Singapore, the character “本” refers to “cost”. The term “重本” is mostly used to describe financial activities. For example, a large investment can be considered “砸重本”. Betting large amounts while gambling could also be considered “下重本”. SAMPLE SENTENCE Certain that many customers wanted to renew their pawn tickets but were unable to do so during operating…

postponing or extending a date

DEFINITION To postpone or extend an originally set date. ETYMOLOGY The Mandarin term “展延” is a combination of the terms “展期” and “延长”, meaning “postpone” and “extend” respectively. “展延” and “延展” are often confused with each other. “延展” has the meaning of “prolong” or “expand”. The earliest use of the term can be found in a news article about the postponement of the Pawnbrokers (Amendment) Bill in Sin Chew Jit Poh in 1960. SAMPLE SENTENCE Singapore and Malaysia amended the…

one-off

DEFINITION Used to describe a one-off action. Completing something in one go. ETYMOLOGY One belief is that the Mandarin term “一次过” is a paraphrase of the English term “one-off” or “one-time”. In Singapore, this term can be used in two different situations, each with its own definition and emphasis. As an adjective, it describes the act or doing something only “once”, and never again. (For example: The registration fee is a one-off payment of $10) As a verbal classifier, it…

Yumseng

DEFINITION To offer a toast. ETYMOLOGY The term Yumseng originated from Cantonese (Guangzhou dialect) and the original term was yamsai. However, as the word sai also meant the “end of everything”, it is considered inauspicious. People started using yumseng instead of yamsai, as the word seng indicated victory. This also demonstrated how ethno-psychology influences the linguistic usage of terms. SAMPLE SENTENCE During yesterday’s Chinese New Year celebrations, in addition to the dragon and lion dance performances, members of the media…

go downtown

DEFINITION To take a trip downtown, in particular to the “Da-Po” and “Xiao-Po” areas in central Singapore. ETYMOLOGY The term “po” is colloquially used by Singaporean Chinese to refer to the town area. In Singapore, “Da-Po” (or big “Po”) and “Xiao-Po” (or little “Po”) refers to specific Chinese commercial areas. “Da-po” and “Xiao-Po” was divided by the Elgin Bridge. “Da po” referred to the South Bridge Road area, while “Xiao po” referred to the area around North Bridge Road. In…

dialysis

DEFINITION To help kidney failure patients remove harmful substances from the blood and peritoneum using a machine. ETYMOLOGY The Mandarin term “洗肾” was used as early as 1974 in the Nanyang Siang Pau. Kidney failure is mainly caused by diabetes and high blood pressure. High blood sugar in diabetic patients is likely to cause the kidneys to overwork when filtering blood, which can cause irreversible damage to the kidneys over time. High blood pressure, on the other hand, can damage…

Unexpected mistake

DEFINITION The Mandarin term “乌龙” refers to mistakes or errors that were not expected. The term also describes someone who is muddle-headed. ETYMOLOGY Originating from Cantonese, “乌龙” is commonly used with the verb “摆”. In Cantonese, “摆乌龙” means to “make an Unexpected mistake” or someone who is “muddle-headed”. One belief is that this term originated from a folk tale. In the tale, people prayed for a Green Dragon to bring rain and life back to the earth after a long…

foreman

DEFINITION A person who is highly skilled or capable. ETYMOLOGY The term originated from the Hokkien (Minnan) dialect term thau tshiu, which means master. It typically refers to a technical expert in a particular industry, or the foreman or supervisor managing a certain industry. The term “头手” is commonly used in Singapore’s vibrant food and beverage industry. There is also a term known as “二手”, which originated from Hokkien term ji tshiu tshiu, which has the meaning of “assistant”. Typically,…

tips

DEFINITION Inside information. ETYMOLOGY The Mandarin term “贴士” is the transliteration of the English word “tips”. The term was initially coined by Hong Kong people based on the Cantonese pronunciation of the English word “tips”.The word “贴” in Cantonese has a similar pronunciation as “tip” while the “s” sound is similar to how the word “士” sounds in Cantonese. After the term “贴士” was coined, the new word along with its usage eventually spread to Singapore. In Singapore, many locals…