Man at His Best

‘Lepak’ Is Now An English Word

‘Shiok’, ‘teh tarik’ and ‘sabo’ make it into the Oxford Dictionary too.

BY Jason S Ganesan | May 13, 2016 | Culture

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‘Teh tarik’ no longer needs italics, because the latest update of the Oxford English Dictionary includes quite a number of Singaporean English terms. But before reaching for pitchforks and accusations of appropriation, note that ten of the 19 Singaporean terms are also listed as Malaysian English, and one (‘wet market’) as belonging to the whole of Southeast Asia.

‘Blur’, however, is attributed to Singapore alone.

Other Singaporean terms now formalised include ‘chilli crab’, ‘killer litter’, and ‘HDB.’ ‘Wah’ is listed as Indian and Singaporean English, and attributed a joint Hindi and Chinese origin, with etymons in Malay and Persian.

To pile on the meta, both and ‘ang moh’ and ‘Chinese helicopter’ (a Chinese-educated Singaporean with limited English) made it into the OED as well.

‘Lepak’ is serious business, being listed as both a verb (“to loiter aimlessly or idly; to loaf, relax, hang out”) and a noun (the practice of doing such, as in ‘lepaking’, which also makes the cut). This formal recognition would have been more useful two decades ago, when creepy PSAs and creepier public figures cautioned the public about the degeneracy of lepak, a sin rivalled only by underage smoking.

‘Sotong’ is thrown in there as well, in case you were wondering.