Abbreviations – Clippings, Acryonyms and Initialisms

Apart from Singlish, the reliance of abbreviation in speech and text can be said to have the most recent habit of communication in Singapore. It is important to note that these abbreviations exist in three formats – clippings, acronyms and initialisms. Clippings are the shortened form of a word, common clippings in Singapore include: air-con (from “air-conditioner”), condo (from “condominium”), sabo (from “sabotage”), and cert (from “certificate”).

Acronyms occur when the initial letters are formed into a single word, its creation in Singapore is rare, but exists in some examples: TIBS (“Trans-Island Bus Service”) and CISCO (“Commercial and Industrial Security Corporation”). Lastly, initialisms are the spelling out of individual letters. This is the most common category in Singapore, examples include: PAP (“People’s Action Party”) and PIE (“Pan-Island Expressway”), which are pronounced /ˌpiː ˌeɪ ˈpiː/ and /ˌpiː ˌaɪ ˈiː/ respectively and never */ˈpæp/ and */ˈpaɪ/.

The frequent use of abbreviations mirrors the quick pace of life in Singapore, as well as the ‘kanchiong’ (impatient) behaviour that is commonly used to categorize many Singaporeans. Fuelled by the digital edge of short messaging service (SMS) and communication on the Internet, Singapore’s reliance on abbreviation has almost become an institution of speech that extends to all walks of life, from schools, to towns, to public institutions & to highways (Fig. 1).

Through these multiple alpha-numeral alphabet combination, Singaporeans have come to rely on their efficiency, and have accepted its function as near equivalent to how words are commonly used. This has unfortunately inconvenience our foreign visitors in understanding these terms in the same way that a foreign language excludes someone who does not understand a particular language. Abbreviations are today so commonplace that even exist in digital displays, road signage, school uniforms, newspapers, and social media, encompassing almost all aspect of Singaporean life. English teachers are even instructed to teach GCE O’level students how to correctly use abbreviations in formal writing. It is no doubt a staple in the daily Singaporean conversation, and unlike Singlish, is also adopted by government agencies, making it a legitimate mode of communication over the years.arts. academia and the arts.

Figure 1:

Table of some of the commonly used abbreviations in Singapore, 2013