In my post about Isaac's baluku, reader Journeyman said the following:
you meant buah duku? please for once, could you singaporean chinese - or chinese singaporeans - get your malay words right? like "otak otak" shortened to and misspelt as ota*H*. good grief.
Actually, no. I meant baluku. I know the root word is from the fruit "buah duku" but a swollen bruise is called "baluku" by most Singlish speakers, especially Chinese Singaporeans.
In the same way, we call bread "loti", even though the root word is "roti". The same goes for "otah".
From an NUS EL2111 course (Historical Variation in English) webpage on The non-Anglo Englishes (NEs):
The ‘internal system’ within a speaker is partly the result of the external input available to that speaker. This exposure might therefore lead to a ‘Mandarin’ system, a ‘Standard English’ system and a ‘Singlish’ system within that speaker. These systems can potentially influence each other, obviously; but when this speaker refers to, say, someone’s baluku (‘a bruise’), he/she does it because he/she has been exposed to other CSE speakers who use the lexical item – not because he/she knows Malay (baluku comes from Malay buah duku – the fruit).
Language is a living thing. It evolves with usage. Finicky Feline may disagree with me though (to which I say "pffft", heheh).
Read this little post by Malaysia's funniest satirist, TV Smith.
Although TV Smith wrote the above for Malaysia, it applies to us in Singapore too. And as TV Smith says, "this linguistic mixture is a living testimony of our nation's colourful and diverse cultural heritage."
Gosh, I so love discussions on Singlish, the glorious Singapore tongue. "Pffft" to the puritans at the Speak Good English campaign too.