Who or what is an Okieporean, you asked.
It is a title given to me by a co-worker describing me as a Singaporean (ie. a Singapore citizen) who is an Oklahoman (ie. an Oklahoma resident).
While it describes my nationality and my current residential status, it is also a reminder of my identity as I straddle between these two very distinct worlds. And I have a confession …
I cringed at the sound of Singlish (a Singaporean slang) especially when I have weaned myself off that pattern of speech so that Americans can understand me despite my accent.
Singlish is a melting pot of English, Malay, and Hokkien words forming a library of phrases used regularly in conversations amongst Singaporeans.
For example, instead of saying “Please slow down as there is no need to rush”, you would say, “Relack (ie. relax) leh … no hurry what!”.
On the other hand, several Oklahoman slangs have also crept into my speech, triggering strange looks when I unconsciously used “y’all” and “fixin’ to” in my conversations with my Singapore friends.
The losing of one speech pattern and gaining of another is deep down, a desire to assimilate into the host environment / society.
Adopting elements of the host culture (from speech to clothings to diet) can be instrumental in bridging gaps and facilitating relationship building.
Languages and slangs are one of the many things that make diversity interesting. And as I thought about this, I AM proud of the “leh’s”, “lah’s”, “meh’s”, and “then-hor’s” which make me uniquely Singaporean. I will also, always have a special place for good old sounthern country twang in my heart.