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© Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Last updated on 16 August 2011 (4 headwords). No reproduction without permission.

ular /uu-lah, ˈuːlɑ/ n. & a. [Mal., snake, serpent (Wilkinson)]  A n. One who tells tales about another to a superior in order to gain advancement or some benefit for himself.  B a. Sly, sneaky, untrustworthy.
1978 Leong Choon Cheong Youth in the Army 314 ular. A soldier who has the characteristics commonly associated with a snake: sly, sneaky, slimy, ie an informer, a person who tells tales about a colleague to his superior in order to obtain his own advancement. Hence ular-king.

      Comb.: ular-king n.  One adept at being an ular or who frequently behaves as an ular.  See King.

ulu /uu-luu, ˈuːluː/ a. [Mal. ulu, hulu head; upper portion; the higher portion of the watershed of a river-state (Wilkinson); the upper waters of a river, up-country, the interior of a country (Winstedt); compare orang hulu a man from the hinterland, a rustic (Wilkinson); inland folk, boors (Winstedt) 1 Remote, rural, out of the way.  2 Backward, primitive, undeveloped.
1 1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 59 I’m not even telling you about my time in ulu Camp 1.  140 ulu. .. rural.  2000 The Sunday Times, 20 February, 42 My mum thought the chedi at Ubud was a little ulu; all that unkempt foliage all the way down to the ravine below.  2000 The Straits Times, 26 June, 37 He was from Serangoon English School, an ulu – meaning out of the way – school.  2000 Yeow Kai Chai The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 2 July, 5 His poverty-stricken, broken family in an ulu Malaysian town.  2004 Raymond Andrew (quoting Chief Justice Yong Pung How) Today, 18 February, 6 You drive her out into the ulu-ulu (remote areas).  2006 Neil Humphreys Final Notes from a Great Island 118 When I decided to embark on a farewell tour of Singapore, I was keen to examine its underbelly and its darkest corners: I wanted to see the ulu bits. Ulu means “remote” in Malay. In Singlish, ulu refers to the distant four corners of the country where taxi drivers will not respond to calls and will not take a passenger there without moaning for the entire journey about how he will never pick up a fare on the way back.  2 1991 Valerie Tan The Straits Times (Section 3), 9 August, 19 ulu – backwards.  1994 C.S. Chong NS: An Air-Level Story 140 ulu. Backward/dilapidated/spartan.  2001 Arti Mulchand (quoting T.K. Sabapathy) The Sunday Times (Sunday Plus), 25 February, P7 When I was a schoolboy, the city as such ended at the junction of Selegie and Bukit Timah Road. After that, the ulu part of Singapore began.

uncle n. [Eng., poss. a transl. of Mand. 叔叔 shūshu father’s younger brother, uncle; a child’s form of address for any young man one generation its senior; or cognates in other Chi. dialects]  (A polite term of address for) a middle-aged or elderly man who may or may not be a relative.  Compare Auntie.
2001 Neil Humphreys Notes from an Even Smaller Island 29 A Singaporean auntie or uncle can be anyone who is from the older generations, like an English old age pensioner (OAP), and the term is used out of affection and respect. In a country where so much emphasis is placed on the family unit and respecting your elders, it is only right that the elderly are held in such high esteem.  2003 Anthea Rowan The Daily Telegraph (from, 14 October. We’ve found an island full of aunts and uncles [title] .. I was still getting to grips with the local parlance. Singlish – an unconventional brand of English with a smattering of Chinese and Malay thrown in – was my next hurdle. Tea became teh, coffee became kopi, and waitresses and waiters ceased to be – replaced by people I was expected to call auntie and uncle. Good grief, I had relatives here?  2005 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 17 July. A crew member asked .. an elderly male extra what was inside the two large canvas bags he carried around with him every day. ‘Uncle’, as we called him, immediately unzipped the bags to reveal scores of albums filled with very graphic photos of him in flagrante delicto with ladies from around the region. 
2006 Chua Boh Seng The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 2 March. Call step-parents ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncle’ [title]. My wife comes from China. We, too, have grown-up children from our previous marriages, though none of them live with us now. When she was introduced to my then-teenage son, I told him to call her ‘Ah Yi’. In Mandarin, that means the sister of one’s mother. It is also widely and politely used to address an elderly woman. When I met her two sons in China, they called me ‘Shu Shu’. In Mandarin, it means the younger brother of one’s father. It is also widely and politely used to address an elderly man. Actually, I am older than their father. .. It is, in fact, perfectly appropriate to address them [step-parents] as ‘Aunt’ or ‘Uncle’ as these names also have an element of respect.  2006 Colin Goh The Sunday Times (LifeStyle) (from Straits Times Interactive), 4 June. ‘Steady, da! ..’ said one of us. ‘Kopi Uncle got taste, man!’  2006 Terence Chong The Straits Times (from Straits Times Interactive), 17 June. [H]eartlander uncles and aunties..  2009 Jasmine Teo, Rachael Boon & Natasha Ann Zachariah The Sunday Times (LifeStyle), 8 March, 2 The word “auntie” conjures up an image of a nagging old woman with a bad perm while “uncle” is more likely to be a fuddy-duddy balding old man in a singlet and shorts hanging out at the void deck.  2009 David Yeo The Straits Times (Life!), 14 March, E6 The terms of address – “auntie” and “uncle” – have negative connotations and are often used to refer to people from the lower strata of society.  2009 Mrs C.P. Ho The Straits Times (Life!), 14 March, E6 From young, my parents taught me to call anyone older, especially those who are married or are working, “auntie” or “uncle”. It is a way of showing respect. If you feel old just because people call you “auntie” or “uncle”, then you have a self-esteem problem. If you are a foreigner who objects to being called “auntie” and “uncle”, I say this is part of our culture, so accept it.

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