Singapore terms join Oxford Dictionary

A Hong Kong wet marketImage copyright

Image caption

You can get pork for your char siu at the dai pai dong

Several Singaporean and Hong Kong English terms, including “wah”, “shiok” and “yum cha”, are now officially recognised as acceptable English.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) added 19 Singaporean terms and 13 Hong Kong terms in its latest update.

“Wah” is an expression of delight or surprise, “shiok” means cool, and “yum cha” is a type of Chinese brunch.

Additions also include “blur”, which means confused or ignorant, and “sabo”, which means to harm or play a prank on.

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Getty Images

Image caption

Can you finish a chilli crab?

The dictionary included formations of English that are mostly used in Singapore or Hong Kong.

For example, “compensated dating”, a Hong Kong term, refers to the practice of teenage students providing companionship or sex in exchange for money or gifts.

And “Chinese helicopter” is a derogatory term referring to a Singaporean whose schooling was conducted in Mandarin Chinese and has limited knowledge of English.

The OED records the meaning and development of the English language.

It says that, for a word to qualify, there must be “several independent examples of the word being used, and also evidence the word has been in use for a reasonable amount of time”.

Hong Kong English words:

Char siu: roast pork marinated in a sweet and savoury sauce

Dai pai dong: an open-air food stall

Kai fong: a neighbourhood association

Wet market: a market for the sale of fresh meat, fish, and produce

Singapore English words:

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Getty Images

Image caption

Gordon Ramsay, an ang moh, at a hawker centre

Ang moh: A light-skinned person, especially of Western origin or descent; a Caucasian

Hawker centre: A food market at which individual vendors sell cooked food from small stalls, with a shared seating area for customers

Chilli crab: A dish consisting of crab cooked in a sweet and spicy gravy containing red chillies and tomato

Killer litter: Objects thrown or falling from high-rise buildings, endangering people

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Read more: The rise of Singlish

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