Singaporean Mandarin Database

This database contains a collection of Mandarin terms which have cultural, historical or sentimental value unique to Singapore. Some of these terms are more commonly read in print while others are often used in our everyday conversations.

Welcome to the Singaporean Mandarin Database.

The development of language is closely related to society, history and culture. Mandarin used in Singapore is likewise influenced by Singapore’s multiracial, multilingual and multicultural society, resulting in the creation or use of terms that are unique to our identity as Singaporeans.

This database contains a collection of Mandarin terms which have cultural, historical or sentimental value unique to Singapore. Some of these terms are more commonly read in print while others are often used in our everyday conversations. For terms with lesser known Mandarin equivalents which have more familiar spoken colloquial forms, the colloquial pronunciations will be provided to support contextual understanding. Currently, terms that do not have corresponding Chinese characters are excluded from the database (such as “sayang”).

Terms in this database are sorted into nine categories: Culture, Social, Places, Speech, Education, Transport, Food / Plants, Communities / Organisations and Legal / Politics. In this database, you can discover the origins of the terms “Lion City” and Merlion, the role played by the Samsui Women and Gurkha Contingent in Singapore’s history, and the cultural roots of our local delicacies such as nasi lemak and satay.

The Singaporean Mandarin Database is currently under construction and will continue to be populated with new terms. English translation will also be available eventually. Please stay tuned!

Expert Panel

  • Dr Chew Cheng Hai (Adjunct Professor, Department of Chinese Studies, National University of Singapore)
  • Mr Lim Jim Koon (former Editor, Lianhe Zaobao and former Group Editor, Chinese Media Group, Singapore Press Holdings)
  • Dr Lan Luh Luh (Associate Professor, NUS Business School and Law School, National University of Singapore)
  • Mdm Heng Boey Hong (Director, Mother Tongue Languages Branch, Curriculum Planning and Development Division, Ministry of Education)
  • Dr Liang Wern Fook (Language Director, Xue Er You Language Centre)

Research Team

  • Dr Tan Chee Lay (Deputy Head, Asian Languages and Cultures Academic Group, National Institute of Education)
  • Ms Li Jingxin
  • Dr Caroline Chia
  • Mr Lim Earn Hoe (Cultural Heritage Specialist)

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has contributed to the construction of this database in one way or another.

Information in the database is valid as at 8 Nov 2019.

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