11 May 2007

Kids Of Singapore Today?

Last month, there was a case of 4 school kids (presumably playing truant) getting swept away by the strong currents as they entered the Sungei Pandan canal to retrieve a mobile phone. Unfortunately one girl did not make it as she was found drowned further downstream.

Click here for the news article.

As if the situation isn't tragic enough, up sprang a blog entry from one of her school mates gloating over her death and claimed that the victim deserved her tragic end.

Click here for the news article.

Naturally, this sparked a huge furore over her insensitive remarks and was blasted all over her blog as well as the blogosphere so much so that she had to delete her blog.

Unfortunately, her blog entry was captured by someone on the internet and was reproduced verbatim via an alternative URL.

Click here for the blog entry mirror.
Anyway, this entry is not aimed to talk about the tragic accident. Neither is it commenting on Wong Wan Tian's entry.

Firstly, it was an accident and I believe the media has already done all the coverage that needs to be done. Anything else from me would have been redundant. Secondly, I have nothing to comment about Wan Tian as I don't see much harm in it. All the angsts are just part and parcel of the rebellious teen phase that a person goes through. In short, she is just a kid so don't expect her to be as mature as any adult. Heck, we still see adults behaving like kids. No?

Instead what caught my eye was the way she writes as well as all the comments that she got from what I presumed to be her peers i.e. around her age.

Read this (if you can):

a~ uu nahh buayy chee byee, d0nn sayy uu buayy ta hann ms k0hh 0r simii, is limm beii see till uu, ii kuaa buayy l0o liia0oxx. uu thinkk la, nahh beii chee bye. y shee alivee wanna beatt uu? uu still sayy f0rr n0o fuckingg ppl? uu nv d0nne aniithgg tt meann ppl hatee uu ppl will beatt uu ma? thinkk la h0rxx. andd yr chee bye binn, knn. UU AREE A DISGRACEE T0 GALL LA, YR NAHH BEII CHEE BYE M0UTHH ANDD YR CHEE BYE BINN ANDD YR CHEE BYE B0DYY, KNN. hw 0ldd lia0oxx? still 3 year 0ldd sii b0o? ppl buyy uu candyy, uu sayy tt guyy gd pers0nn, ppl treatt uu badd sc0ldd themm andd crustt themm? andd m0stt fuckk tupp is YY S0O HUMM JII? B0O JII SAYY WHENN SE ALIVEE ANDD D0NN DAREE SAYY INFR0NTT 0F PPL? NAHH BEII CHEE BYE LA UU. KII H0NGG KANN LA UU, H0RR KA0O KANN LA, KNN. ANDD II CANN 100% C0MFIRMM TT IF SHE ALVIVEE SHE WILL G0O AFTERR UU DE. BUTT YY S0O HUMM JII HARR UU? DEADD LIIA0OX DE SAYY? uu cann imageine la h0rxx, if uu weree a p0situdee, uu wann yr daughter t0 be likee uu as 0nee? ppl familyy 0rdyy kann sayy liia0oxx le leii. herr mumm still putt 0n a happii facee andd still cheerr up th0see wh0o is sayy yett uu chee byee kann herr, fuckk uu la. D0NN SAYY YR MUMM NT TREATT UU GD. UU THINKK LA H0RXX. UU G0TT MAKEE THEMM TRUSTT UU? BY YR TIIS CHEE BYE ATTUTIDE?

My question is: Do kids these days speak and write like that???!!

Granted that I am not asking for impeccable Queen's English standard, after all we do write, for fun, in Singlish from time to time too.

But this!

If Singlish is bad English (eventhough I am ok with it), then surely that above gibberish is bad Singlish. Granted that Singlish is not always grammatically correct but at least it is easy to read and understand (from a local standpoint).

A classic example would be that of the now-dormant Rockson Tan. Compared his Singlish to the above. Aiyoh.... read until head can explode, can?

Problem is, this is a problem on our own end. I doubt if those kids have any trouble at all. I'd bet they would be thinking "now what is all the fuss that I am making here?"

Well, this is what worries me. These kids are the future of Singapore. If this is the standard of Singlish (I dare not even mention English yet) of our future generation, we are going to be in big trouble.

Afternote: I hope readers do not misinterpret this entry as seeing people who speak like the above "no up" but I draw a line between Singlish and this. Speaking and writing like the above will do us in, from a long term perspective of us in the global competitive environment.

Before anyone accuse me of being an atas elitist. I am not. I am just wondering if the schools as well as the Ministry of Education are aware of this situation?

- Voxeros

1. zeenie left...
Friday, 11 May 2007 5:53 pm ::
i agree with you. Could not make out a single coherent sentence in that mess of letters and am infinitely worried about this state of affairs. It seems that standards these days keep dropping and it would be unfair to blame the teachers for it (knee-jerk reaction for some). Sigh.

2. OLLie left...
Friday, 11 May 2007 6:12 pm
hey, i have seen this before. In the way my ex tuition boy typed in msn. Cannot make anything out of it.
Eh. Pardon me for saying this, but he came from a neighbourhood school. I think that's how they all type over there. From what I see, my cousins (age 13 to 17) are alright. Still typing like you and I. So it's not that bad ba.

Anyhow, it might just be a passing phase. Like when I was at the mIRC stage, i could type all the IRC lang easily. It's just a way to fit in I guess. Can switch out of it one la. But it takes time and determination. haha..

3. Pam left...
Friday, 11 May 2007 7:03 pm
I think it's a case of what's trendy and perhaps in this particular case, trying to avoid the tracking things within the internet that will deem it as 'offensive'. You know, like how you avoid the name of the country you live in by substituting it with an !..?

Over here I get emails from university students from all walks of life typing in text speak (u instead of you, fanks instead of thanks, wanna instead of want to etc). My cousin in Australia who is 20 types 'wanna ya' style. which annoys me but hey, she's my cousin and not my employee so I don't pick up on that.

I know of some people who get upset when they get emails that aren't probably capitalised in the right words! So, I think it depends on your tolerance levels and what society in general will tolerate now, and in future. Also, it depends on the context - in the case of a blog, if you speak too 'atas' people may think you are atas and then not read your blog (or worse, kena slammed for trying to be atas). so, teenagers will think it's necc to get down with it and be singlish speakers - at least in Singapore.

Over here, the govt tried to implement this ASBO thing (antisocial behavioural order) where if anyone was caught doing an antisocial act they would be issued with an ASBO. it completely backfired, and alot of people of that type decided that an ASBO was a badge of honour. For me and for most others it would have been super malu, but not these guys.

The point - it is the context that you are writing in. Hopefully these guys will not write this way when they are at the work place or where they need to be serious. Otherwise, I don't see a major problem - as long as they know when to switch. Like when you switch from American-accented english to Singaporean english... yah? If they don't know when or how to switch, now THAT's a problem...:)

4. JayWalk left...
Saturday, 12 May 2007 5:12 am :: 
zeenie: I agree with you that teachers are not to be blamed. At least not entirely. What bugs me is who was the cockanaden that made this trendy?

OLLie: Yeah. I hope this is just a passing phase that the modern teenager has to go through. I just hope that they are able to snap out of it and soon!

Pam: This so called trendy is akin to Louis Vuitton recent disaster of the Red, White and Blue series. (See Below)

What were they thinking?

Anyway, I am ok with people typing "fank u". I do it sometimes myself but hey at least there is some grammatical sense in it.

aNoThEr tHiNg ThAt bUgS mE tO nO eNd iS tHe tYpInG iN aLtErNatE cAPs. Shit man... it took me an entire minute just to type that! Grrrr....

I just hope that it is just a kiddie trend and know when to code switch when the occasion calls for it. I really hope.

5. ris left...
Saturday, 12 May 2007 1:47 pm
Kids nowadays do actually speak and type like that, I think the term for it is called 'teh gong teh siao' / acting blur and crazy. They think it's really cute and fashionable. I guess you can hope that it's just a phase that they go through

6. JayWalk left...
Saturday, 12 May 2007 2:02 pm :: 
ris: Hi ris. Long time no see. I really hope it's a passing phase. Frankly, I don't see how fashionable/trendy this can be? Generation Gap? Haiz.....

7. akk left...
Sunday, 13 May 2007 12:48 pm
eh...actually it's really just a phase. soon when they get older they'll be laughing over what they wrote last time. and you'll always get youngsters to happily learn all the swearwords in the whole world and not be able to complete a normal english book.

8. spinnee left...
Sunday, 13 May 2007 1:39 pm
diao.. i thot my days of writting in caps & off caps are already mind-fucked enuff..
i just practically stop reading after the 1st sentence. anyway she look so pretty, y like that one... =\

9. ris left...
Monday, 14 May 2007 12:32 am
Hi there! Got a job so it was kinda hectic xD well... I guess its called 'the blind following the blind'? They find it boring to just type normally and minding the punctuation as well as the caps, they think they're creating their own rules while 'recreating the alphabet' or maybe that was just me :D

10. JayWalk left...
Monday, 14 May 2007 12:51 am :: 
Akk: Like Pam said, there will be this bunch of kids that will never be able to get past the phase. I worry for them.

Spinnee: I never did notice her picture until you mentioned it. You're right. Quite chio. What a waste hor?

ris: Hope you enjoy the new job! Anyway, like I was telling Akk, I hope they snap out of it fast. It is doing more harm than good.

11. okiedokie left...
Monday, 14 May 2007 12:22 pm
I also stop reading after the first sentence, mainly because my written hokkein not good so hard time trying to decipher them...

basically I felt that no doubt the teenagers will get over that phase of writing, but what worries me is the vulgarity or the magnitude of it. Is there a need to fill the whole entry with vulgarities? I'm not against it, I say it sometimes (silently) too; but to write them down multiple times...vulgarity stays in your mind once you pick it up; we can only learn to control the usage and when to use it. That's what I think..

I quite like typing in AlTeRnAtE CaPs for certain phases like 'HaPpY BiRtHdAy' coz it looks quite nice. & it's quite easy to type, just 1 finger on the 'Shift' and another hand to type. =)

12. JayWalk left...
Monday, 14 May 2007 5:18 pm :: 
okiedokie: Hello!!! Are you new to commenting here? If yes, welcome to the blog! If no, welcome again!

Ehh.... you are the first person I know who like aLtErNaTe cAps. Er... don't mind me asking ah? How old are you? Don't take offense hor. I just curious to know lah. :)

13. okiedokie left...
Monday, 14 May 2007 9:22 pm
yeah, i'm new in the commenting section.
erm...i'm 12....years younger than you (assuming your age as stated in the header is true ;>). I know that I'm old enough NOT to use alternate caps; just use it on special occasions like festivals and birthdays...definitely not for essay-writing!

14. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 15 May 2007 9:37 am :: 
okiedokie: Ok ok... you still got hope. I think we can save you. ahahahahaha.... Anyway, glad to have you here at the blog. Hope to see you regularly. Yah?

15. Pam left...
Tuesday, 15 May 2007 4:19 pm
hey, check out this email from a student of mine... "Hi Kim,

Just wandered did u reach a decision for when you would hole those revision lectures??

grammatically correct perhaps, bad spelling, casual writing. and this is at the university...... oh and did I mention, he's a native english speaker?.........1

16. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 15 May 2007 5:57 pm :: 
Pam: Compared to what I've witnessed. This is rather mild.

17. Jane Doe left...
Sunday, 20 May 2007 4:51 am ::
Yeah... this is something we're all disconcerted about. But you hafta look at the environment these kids are growing up in. I've had my fair share of all this coming outta graduates' mouths, killing my ears. Check it out on my page and you'll totally see what I mean.

18. JayWalk left...
Monday, 21 May 2007 1:21 am :: 
Jane Doe: Thanks for dropping by. Welcome to the blog. I read your blog entry but I tend to give a bit more slack to Singlish. It's the bad Singlish that concerns me.

19. merryfeet left...
Friday, 25 May 2007 10:33 pm ::
Hi hi! I came across your blog through Blinkymummy. Nice read! (: esp your acs entry. I'm proud to be part of the acjc (recent) history.

Actually I have to agree with what Ollie said, though that might make me sound elitist. It's probably the environment that they are brought up in, and this habit is more ingrained in their daily work than they themselves realise. It's only through my relief teaching stint at the neighbouring school in vicnity of my residence that I had experience with the neighbourhood school kids that I knew that this was so "rampant". They have never failed in any attempt to split my head into two with sms-es and msn chat filled with alt caps letterings and misspellings. In an attempt to lessen my migraine, I expressed to one the torture that they are putting my poor head through, and was kindly slapped with the following msn reply (trying my best to replicate):

AIYAH TcHER! WieE eUu sO nOtTx CoOl De WoRxX! EvErYbOdIe Is DoINg dIs DeRx, eUu Be MoRe FaShIoNaBlex LarHx... (but you are completely missing the point of English ya know?) eh CheR eUu VerI de OldFaShIoN lEHxX. I NoE eUu nOes Can AlReAdy!.... and (insert my full name) wHy Ur FwEnNstEr PrOfiLe EuU uSee Ur oWnN nAmE dE? so oLdfAsHioN!"
with which I can only reply with a


to preserve my own dignity, character and already "atas" social standing in their eyes. Alamak, i just took like a whole3 minutes to type that thing!

Actually i think lapsing into Singlish and slang at suitable occassions is very ok. It's something that I think only Singaporeans and long time PRs are capable of (: and it's something that we do to fit into the circle that we hang out with. I can only hope that the alt caps and bad grammar don't stick around my l'il kids for long. And in their exam scripts. That's the ultimate disaster man.

And, i am NOT an atas kid. (:

20. JayWalk left...
Saturday, 26 May 2007 1:25 pm :: 
Merryfeet: Holy cow! It took you 3 minute to type. It takes me 5 minutes to read!

I think it is dangerous to equate that to the neighbourhood school. Granted that the correlation statistics may hint towards so, I think it is most unwise to blanket them as such, lest you are ready to brave the flames from the trolls.

Without pointing any fingers at anyone, I just hope it is merely a passing fad that would die off eventually. It is a double-edged sword actually if you think about it. Let it go unchecked and it may infest like weeds. Cull them and risk being labeled as an elitist oppressor hindering the freedom of expression. Either way we lose. :(

21. merryfeet left...
Sunday, 27 May 2007 11:57 am ::
okay, haha. Actually I did think twice before mentioning the part about the neighbourhood school kids, but the conclusion that I came to was that since this is just a passing phase, and a more common phenomenon found in neighbourhood schools than others, it should be rather safe to say that this was due more to the environment they are in, rather than put a noose and generalise that all and only neighbourhood school kids do that. This is not to, in any way, put down those who write in this manner (alt caps).

It's this way because all their friends are doing it, and they find it cute, cool and funky. It is less common in the rest of the schools perhaps because their peers do not find it interesting to write in this manner (inclusive of the written and spoken vulgarities). I do have friends who are in their mid-twenties and still typing alt caps in casual chat functions, and peers in neighbouhood school who speak and type English/good singlish perfectly well, and juniors from the "elite" schools sending me equally head-splitting messages. Perhaps it wouldn't wear off, but hopefully they learn to correct their spelling, grammar, and know the right occssions for such style lor.
I think this can provide the guys in "your generation" with a view of what actually happens in gen-y.
aiya i'm sounding too auntie for my age.

22. JayWalk left...
Monday, 28 May 2007 11:38 pm :: 
Auntie MerryFeet: What d'ya mean "your generation"??!! *sulk*

I supposed I do agree with you that it is more prevalent among the neighbourhood schools. I just hope that the schools are aware of this and are doing something about it.

23. merryfeet left...
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 12:10 pm ::
nothing nothing. gen-x and gen-y disparity.

24. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 2:08 pm :: 
Merryfeet: I still young ok!!! I only 25*!!!

* 10th anniversary.

25. Devilcp left...
Monday, 24 March 2008 1:06 pm ::
Totally agree with you on the kids this days. This is not singlish at all. If this becomes a big trend with the kids these days, it's gonna be a big hit to the english education in Singapore. You can check out my own comment about it at

26. Yingz left...
Monday, 24 March 2008 1:08 pm
I totally have a headache reading the so called Singlish that they write. It takes me more than 2 times the time I require to read a normal essay. Think the authorities should be noted on this Singapore Gibberish that is poisoning kids these days.

27. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 25 March 2008 9:25 am :: 
Devilcp & Yingz: Welcome to the blog. I am surprised to still get comments for a blog entry that has been a year old. How did you find this entry? I reckoned that it was buried and lost by all the other entrys.

Er... are you two related?

Devilcp: I just went over to your blog and I guess the difference between you and I is that I am slightly more tolerant towards the usage of Singlish. To me, I believe that there is a time and place for each. I see you as taking the safe passage whereby proper English gets you around in all occasions while there are times where usage of Singlish is just asking for trouble.

I supposed if one is able to code-switch fluently between the two, it should be ok as it meant that the command of these two languages are under your control.

Yingz: Gibberish will be a NO for me, under any circumstances. It doesn't even, in my opinion, qualify as Singlish. I am sure the teachers at ground level are aware of this but is this problem feedback up the channel to the Ministry?

I think a big portion of this problem is also the family. If the family talks like this at home, it is hardly suprising that the kid would pick it up and apply it elsewhere.

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