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Taylor Swift Connects – with Singlish!

Image: ©Paolo Villanueva, Wikimedia Commons

I am a few decades too old to have grown up with Taylor Swift’s music, but who could have missed hearing that she was performing in Singapore? Especially since a daughter managed to snag a ticket to a show.

What grabbed my attention after the first night was the fact that she and her backup dancer, Kameron Saunders, had incorporated a Singlish phrase into the performance! As the days went on, it became clear that Saunders was going to say a different Singlish phrase each night. I began to ask my daughter each morning, as she scrolled through her Instagram feed, “So what Singlish phrase came up last night?”

Singlish, that local variant of English so dear to our hearts, is the language that almost all Singaporeans use when we can be informal and unguarded, usually with our family and friends. It is also the language we use to form an instant connection when we meet a fellow Singaporean overseas.

In each performance, the Singlish phrase occurred at the same point, after Swift said the line: “We are never ever getting back together”. The usual response was “Like ever”, but in the six performances in Singapore, Saunders responded with:

No lah!

Siao ah!

Walao eh!


Wah piang eh!

Hanor, abuden?




From the screams that greeted each night’s Singlish phrase, it was clear that the crowds much appreciated the efforts to connect with them using their colloquial language.

Even without the star power of Taylor Swift, those who share God’s Word will likewise receive a warmer welcome if they use the language that resonates with the hearers’ hearts.

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