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Author Topic: When to address Singaporeans as "Uncle" or "Aunty"?  (Read 10377 times)
Blossom
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« on: 17 August 2001, 15:50:00 PM »

As a newcomer to Singapore, I notice that, some call an older person "Aunty" or "Uncle", even if the person may not be a relative, or may be a stranger.

Our elderly neighbour has asked her grand daugter to call me Aunty. Do I call my elderly neighbour Aunty? Who should I address as Uncle or Aunty?

I think it is a good way to address someone in a respectful way, but just don't want to use it in the wrong situations.

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SoSo
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« Reply #1 on: 17 August 2001, 15:59:00 PM »

Not sure if it's just because I am too old, but we were "trained" to use the term Aunty & Uncle for friends of our parents... though didn't use it for any older geezer or geezess as they do here...

I just speak to them as best I can... done that everywhere and haven't come across any problems...

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ejainia
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« Reply #2 on: 17 August 2001, 16:03:00 PM »

I was taught since i was a kid to greet any stranger older than me by "aunty" n "uncle", as a form of respect.   This includes the kind uncle selling me the noodles in the hawker centre or the nice cleaning aunty.  
I think that it is polite and we get a nice smile from them. I realised too that the people become friendlier.

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ejainia
evehow
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« Reply #3 on: 17 August 2001, 16:10:00 PM »

DO NOT CALL ME AUNTY!!!!!  

The terms "aunty" and "uncle" are usually used for people from your parent's generation.  I think you can call your elderly neighbour Aunty too, it's quite a general term of address.

For persons of your grandparent's generation, the terms "ah soh" and "ah pek" may be used.

But remember these are to be used informally.  You DO NOT call your boss Uncle or Aunty (unless you wanna get sacked)!!!  I think it's common sense?!

I'm now getting addressed as "aunty" (by kiddies in church) despite my emphasising to call me "cheh-cheh" (elder sister).  ARRGHHH!!!!

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Poppette
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« Reply #4 on: 17 August 2001, 16:10:00 PM »

As long as someone is a granny, grandad, married and 10 years older than the other person ... u are an Auntie or Uncle. For a young child to a teenager or a 20 something, che che (big sister) or korkor (big brother).  
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Fidel Castro
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« Reply #5 on: 17 August 2001, 16:13:00 PM »

Frankly, the choice is a simple one.  See any woman with a bad hairdo and she's a candidate for Aunty.  The equivalent for man will be one with thinning hair.  Just know when not to call a tai-tai aunty though. Big hair or otherwise.
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Fidel Castro
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« Reply #6 on: 17 August 2001, 16:19:00 PM »

Evehow,

What are you doing here?  Lee Kong Tee Me?  You'll always be my Ah-Soh lah.  Are you still up for that Teochew Muay date. Chuck Ah Pek aside for this Hunk Lah.  

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evehow
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« Reply #7 on: 17 August 2001, 16:23:00 PM »

Oy, email me privately lah, want to flirt with aunty openly ah, no shame one!  
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Singaporean
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« Reply #8 on: 17 August 2001, 16:33:00 PM »

I think a lot of the expats who get rudeness from the locals will find that evaporates once they use the magic words auntie and uncle   (or course judiciously, which is what you're asking here  )

Basically address the Chinese speaking older ladies and men, 50 and over. They will be impressed that ang mohs know how to blend in with the local culture and surprise, surprise respect their elders too

For the non-Chinese, Boss is good too, even if he's obviously not, e.g. taxi driver, hawker (tho I've noticed only men address other men as Boss)

If you want to REALLY impress, ask a local to teach you how to pronounce elder brother (ah hiah) so you can address taxi drivers, fruit sellers, hawkers etc who're only slightly older than you

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Fidel Castro
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« Reply #9 on: 17 August 2001, 16:36:00 PM »

Mon Chere,  Mon Ah Soh,  *Muak* *Muak* *Muak*  Ah Pek in town?  Let's drop by David Gan's before Date, OK?  Heck with Messr Lim.
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evehow
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« Reply #10 on: 17 August 2001, 16:46:00 PM »

 
quote:
Originally posted by Singaporean:
If you want to REALLY impress, ask a local to teach you how to pronounce elder brother (ah hiah) so you can address taxi drivers, fruit sellers, hawkers etc who're only slightly older than you

"Aiyoh, Ah Hiaaaaahhhhh.... wai you charge me so expensif!!!"

(Female equivalent is "Ah Niah.")

But I dare not use, sekali he use the cha-kia (clogs) to knock my head.  Only use with people you've gotten more familar with or with whom you can have a light-hearted banter.

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evehow
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« Reply #11 on: 17 August 2001, 16:51:00 PM »

Wait, I might have given out inaccurate information.  What does "Ah Niah" mean ah?  I assumed it meant "xiao jie" (Miss).  So it may not be the female equivalent of "Ah Hiah."

My colleagues call me that sometimes, and I dunno!!  

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bunnychow
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« Reply #12 on: 17 August 2001, 16:57:00 PM »

Well not having a big hair do nor wearing big flower print clothing and being a spritely young 34 (and quite attractive at that), I do not mind at all be called Aunty by my colleague's 6 year old.  It's friendly, yet familar (so don't call your boss dat lah), but still polite and shows respect.  

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Poppette
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« Reply #13 on: 17 August 2001, 16:58:00 PM »

Not only is 'uncle' used out of respect and with the hope of getting better service but ALSO to remind the hawker, shop person and especially cheeky taxi drivers ... 'you are as old us my uncle so watch it, don't try any pick up lines with this mui mui' (no, no not the designer label but it means young single girl)  
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ermm
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« Reply #14 on: 17 August 2001, 17:02:00 PM »

ah niah is equivalent to "aunty" in my books.  
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