What’s this Jawn?


 Language is something that is really interesting to me, especially spoken languages. Before coming to Drexel, I had assumed that since the college was in the United States (US), there would not be very big differences in the spoken language, since both Singapore and the US both use English. However, this could not be further from the truth. The most interesting slang term I’ve heard is the use of “Jawn”, while it isn’t very common, I have seen it being used a few times over the course of the past 3 weeks. Apparently, it is used to represent almost anything and is a placeholder word for something. I have not heard of a more general term for anything being used other than maybe “stuff”. I researched the term a little, and I think it is mostly only used in Pennsylvania, and not throughout the whole of America, which is pretty cool to have region-based slang. 

 Aside from slang, I also realized that written English is pretty similar other than the spelling of certain words. I never realized that the English spelling I use is the British English spelling for most words. While I was typing out my responses for some assignments, I realized that for some of the words that were used in the question, I had unknowingly spelled them using the British English spelling instead of the American English spelling. Some examples include “colour” vs “color” or “enrol” vs “enroll”. The differences are pretty subtle but still noticeable nonetheless. 

I have also observed that the people here generally speak quite fast as well. This is in comparison to the English spoken in Singapore where we do speak a version of English known as Singlish. Singlish includes words used in the various languages and dialects spoken in Singapore mixed in with English. There are also words like “sia” or “lah” that sound more like random noises you make with your mouth than actual words but are very commonly used at the end of words, phrases, or sentences to end them off. An example of the use of “lah” is “Yeah lah” or “Yeah lor” which means essentially the same thing, “Yes”. Another word we use that’s derived from the Hokkien dialect is “jialat”, which describes something that is bad or disastrous. It can be used on its own as a signifier of exasperation or as an adjective for an item or a situation that is unfavourable. 

It has only been 3 weeks so maybe I’ll encounter many more differences in spoken or written language here and I am looking forward to learning about them!


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