Separated By a Common Language?

British vs American vs Singapore English


What does Lee Kuan Yew say:

“There is an intense worldwide competition for talent, especially for English-speaking skilled professionals, managers and executives. Our English-speaking environment is one reason why Singapore has managed to attract a number of these talented individuals to complement our own talent pool.

“They find it easy to work and live in Singapore, and remain plugged into the global economy. Singapore is a popular educational choice for many young Asians who want to learn English, and they get a quality education. This has kept our city vibrant.”

Mr Lee said one of the challenges ahead is to decide whether to adopt British English or American English.

He said: “I think the increasing dominance of the American media means that increasingly our people, teachers and students will be hearing the American version, whether it is ‘potatoes’ or ‘tomatoes’. They will be the dominant force through sheer numbers and the dominance of their economy.

“I believe we will be exposed more and more to American English and so it might be as well to accept it as inevitable and to teach our students to recognise and maybe, to even speak American English.”

“communication skills will be one of the most valuable qualities to possess in the twenty-first century.”

Read the article here

Exposure to different accents is important, however Singaporeans should just focus on clarity of speech, and good communication skills. Maintain a Singapore accent and don’t worry about it being British or American. Distinct consonants, and proper vowel formation is the key :)

Are there tramps or bums in Singapore?


First Floor – In Singapore and the USA the first floor is the ground floor of a building. In the UK, the first floor is the second floor.

Pants – In Singapore and the USA, pants are trousers. In the UK, pants are underwear.

Bird – In the USA, a bird is a bird. In the UK, a bird is a name for a woman

Braces – In Singapore and the USA, braces are devices placed on teeth to straighten them. In the UK, braces hold up pants (Also called suspenders).

Dummy – In the USA, a dummy is an idiot. In the UK, a dummy is a baby’s pacifier.

Fag – In the USA, fag is a very derogatory term for a homosexual. In the UK, a fag is a cigarette.

Chaps – In the USA, chaps are leather pants worn by cowboys or motorcyclists. In the UK, chaps are your male friends.

Chemist – In the USA, a chemist is a scientist that works with chemicals. In the UK, a chemist is what we would call the pharmacist.



Have you taken your lunch yet?’: It does not mean whether you have picked up your lunch yet, namely, it denotes whether or not you have eaten your lunch yet.

The standard English way is “Have you eaten your lunch” or “have you had your lunch?”


  1. AKAAWOL.com22/07/2014

    So I guess what you are saying is that Singapore and the US have it right and the UK needs to change the way it speaks… Hummm I agree :p

  2. Angmohdan27/07/2014



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