Saturday, April 09, 2005

Singapore Sling

Do you remember the Class 2 puzzle which used to go - what word is a mile from beginning to end? and the answer was "Smiles". Well, in similar vein, though not as literal, certain words are short but have expression in fact an entire idea within them. One such word is: *drum roll*
KIASU (kee-ah-soo)
Hokkien adjective literally meaning, "afraid of losing". A highly pejorative description beloved of Singaporeans. Possibly the defining national characteristic. The nearest English equivalent is "dog in a manger", though even that is pretty mild.

A simple example would be queueing up all night for some "limited offer" stuff. Or, to grab freebies by the dozen, eat enough of the "free food" sample so you don't need dinner, polish off office stationary as if markers are going out of style. And of course, not to buy things which are not on sale. I wouldnt think its not something new - all cultures have our share of kiasu-dom to various degrees, but I guess are not shameless enough to admit it and more so, find a word for it.

I have heard both kiasu-dom and kiasu-ism. I guess because we are kiasu enough not to let go of either of the suffixes.

Here is the A-Z of kiasu-dom/ism:

Always must win Never mind what they think
Borrow but never return Outdo everyone you know
Cheap is good Pay only when necessary
Don't trust anyone Quit while you are ahead
Everything also must grab! Rushing and pushing wins the race
Free! Free! Free! Sample are always welcome
Grab first talk later Take but don't give
Help yourself to everything Unless it's free forget it
I first, I want, I everything Vow to be number one
Jump queue Winner takes it ALL! ALL! ALL!
Keep coming back for more Yell if necessary to get what you want
Look for discount Zebras are kiasu because they want to
Must not lose face be both black and white at the same time


Sinfully Pinstripe said...

Awsome. That word is a story by itself. Way to go.

Sinfully Pinstripe said...

And blogrolled you too