Key to pronunciation: Singapore and Malaysian English

View the pronunciation model for Singapore and Malaysian English here.

The pronunciations given are those in use among educated urban speakers of standard English in Singapore and Malaysia. While avoiding strongly regionally or socially marked forms, the pronunciations are intended to reflect some of the features common to the forms of English spoken in both Singapore and Malaysia, although compromises have necessarily been made. The keywords given in this key are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

All words indicated as being associated with Singapore and/or Malaysia are also given British and American pronunciations alongside the Singapore & Malaysian pronunciation(s). Where a word is associated with an additional part of the English-speaking world, further pronunciations in the appropriate global variety of English are also given.

To hear the pronunciation spoken aloud, click the blue play icon to the left of each transcription.

Note from Catherine Sangster, Head of Pronunciations, October 2020

“A small but significant number of our World English pronunciations lack audio at the moment. Audio is created by freelance actor-phoneticians working with our sound engineer in our Oxford recording studio, but for the last several months it has been unsafe for us to run these sessions. We will prioritize addressing this backlog as soon as we can safely get back into our studio.”

Vowels

Singapore &
Malaysian English
As in…
i fleece, kit
ɛ dress, trap
ɑ father, start, cup
ɔ lot, hawk, cloth, force, cure 1
u foot, goose
poor 1
ə nurse, alpha, letter
here
ɛ square
e face
ai price
mouth
o goat
ɔi choice

1 In Singapore & Malaysian English, there is a difference between words such as cure with /ɔ/ and words such as poor, sure, and tour, all of which have /uə/.

Consonants

  As in…
b big /biɡ/
d dig /diɡ/
jet /dʒɛt/
f fig /fiɡ/
ɡ get /ɡɛt/
h head /hɛd/
j yes /jɛs/
k kit /kit/
l leg /lɛɡ/
m men /mɛn/
n net /nɛt/
ŋ wing /wiŋ/
p pit /pit/
r red /rɛd/
s sit /sit/
ʃ ship /ʃip/
t tip /tip/
chip /tʃip/
w win /win/
v vet /vɛt/
z zip /zip/
ʒ leisure /ˈlɛʒə/ (or similar)

The British and American English sounds /θ/ and /ð/ are treated differently Singapore & Malaysian English. Singapore & Malaysian English pronounces them as /t/ and /d/ respectively (thing /tiŋ/, though /do/), except word-final /ð/ becoming /t/ (breathe /brit/).

Unlike in many other varieties of English, consonants cannot take on the function of vowels in Singapore & Malaysian English (there are no ‘syllabic consonants’).

Stress

The symbol ˈ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with primary stress. The symbol ˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with secondary stress. The symbol ˈˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable may be pronounced with either primary or secondary stress.