We were trying to practise texting in Chinese.
“Hao qi dai,” she wrote, a phrase that has a kind of bright-eyed earnestness similar to “can’t wait”.
I told my friend, a Singaporean who has spent many years overseas,
the phrase was a lot more likely to come out of the mouth of a Taiwanese
than a Singaporean. It was just too effusive and thus unlike the
Mandarin used here – what you hear in food courts, for example – which, I
would argue, tends to have a gruff quality.
This got me thinking about what defines Singaporean Chineseness, a
topic Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about recently at the opening
of the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre in Shenton Way.