My chabor’s eyes totally not like sun;
Chilli padi more red than her lips red;
If kachang puteh, her neh neh hitam;
If hair like beehoon, char beehoon grow on her head.
I got see Singapore flag, red and white,
But those colour don't have leh in her cheeks;
MRT got BreadTalk when I alight,
The smell more shiok sia than my chabor’s licks.
I song-song when hear her voice, but I know
I listen to Taufik when she not around;
I never see Guan Yin Ma dance like Sun Ho;
My chabor, when she dance, machiam wayang clown.

 

But then, my chabor, confim-plus-chop rare
All other chabor, no way can compare.

 

 

 

 

 

My ah boy’s specs maciam solar eclipse,

If tau hu is smooth, then his face ngoh hiang,

If cool is hipster, cold storage his hips,

If pects are hills, his man-boobs are mount biang

I got smell haze, red and white country troll us

Last warning ah! My ah boy smell more strong

Some man spray Calvin Klein over their forest

My ah boy spray the Off buy from Tekong

I love to K, but his voice is un un

Un un be lie ber ber that’s what he ah

I neh do NS, but neh see someone

Like bae cepat jalan left chiu left kah

 

But kanina, my ah boy is more there

Than any ah beng try to maneh neh.

 

“Sonnet 130”, William Shakespeare

 

Translator's notes for “Soh-net in the Singlish 130”:


1. “chabor” replaces “mistress”, which in Shakespeare’s time denotes one’s beloved.
2. “chilli padi” replaces “coral” which refers to polished red jewelry, one of the reddest things in Shakespeare’s time.
3. particularly difficult to translate due to “snow” and (archaic) “dun”. settled on “kacang puteh” (white beans), puteh/hitam (white/black in Malay) brings out the contrast of snow-white / dun while keeping the rhyme.
4. “black wires” to “char beehoon” for obligatory food reference.

5. “roses damasked” (variegated roses)—a metaphor representing the red/white roses of Lancaster and York (and afterwards, the English Tudor crown), is appropriately replaced with the Singapore flag. 
6. “roses” replaced with “colour” because the only flower ah beng know is cauliflower (actually because the roses reference in the previous line was removed).
7–8. the entire perfume-smelling-breath line was the hardest to translate. had to replace “delight” with “alight” for the rhyme to stick, and “licks” was the closest I could stick to the original meaning while rhyming it (only other rhyme I could think of is “batiks”). “sia” is slightly misplaced in the middle for the rhyme, although not breaking any Singlish rules.
9. straightforward translation

10. could have gone with a straightforward translation, but because previous line was also straightforward I decided to keep the music association but tweak the detailed meaning. exceeds line length by one though because of the extra “I”.

11. “goddess” translated to “Guan Yin Ma”. changed “walk” to “dance” for better association but kept the meaning of how she moves. also couldn’t resist a Sun Ho rhyme sorry.
12. “wayang clown”, also, wayang kulit, to rhyme with “around”.

13–14. the original “belied with false compare” mocks other poets who engage in haigiography, but too cheem for Singlish to accommodate, so the translation incorporates a very Singaporean kiasu showoff tone instead.

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