Don't Talk Cock


The first time I ever heard and used the phrase “don’t talk cock” was during my early secondary school days. This was in the early 1990s. It’s one of my favourite phrases to express disbelief, dissatisfaction, or annoyance at nonsensical talk. It’s also very versatile. You can say it with a laugh or with a sneer.

I’ve always wondered who invented that phrase. How did it even come about? My adult brain attributes its origins to a shortening of “cock-and-bull story”. So when one applies the rules of Singlish, “don’t give me that cock-and-bull story” is naturally shortened to “don’t talk cock”. Short, sweet, and effective. That’s my hypothesis.

All this talk about not talking cock and Singlish led me back to this book from my youth. It’s a Singaporean classic entitled “Oh No, It’s The Kitchi Boy Gang!”


It’s a colourful read of about 15 short chapters. The whole book is centred on a bunch of friends talking cock about life in Singapore, family ties, courtship, how to make money, and of course, football (remember how Singapore won the Malaysia cup in 1994). Here're a few pages to whet your appetite:


Published in 1985, it was the first book I ever read that introduced me to written Singlish. Even today, reading it makes me feel nostalgic.


Until then, I never realised that people wrote in Singlish - none of my teachers ever did. Thankfully, Singaporean writers, actors, and producers have come of age and embraced Singlish has a legitimate tool for telling stories.


Perhaps a few hundred years from now, when Singapore as we know it no longer exists, archaeologists would unearth The Kitchi Boy Gang and re-discover what it was like to relac in kopitiams, live in kampungs, and speak in Singlish. Or maybe there wouldn’t be a need to re-discover anything at all because Singaporean culture, the parts worth celebrating, would be alive and well. Perhaps the best of what makes us Singaporean would be preserved and carried forward by our cultural heirs.


Thinking along these lines, we started work on creating a smol tok expansion series to create meaningful conversations about the Singaporean way of life, minus the bullshit. It’s called dun tok cok and it aims to get you, Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans alike, to share deeply about your experiences on this Little Red Dot.

It'll be available online and in stores in June 2016. Give it a shot!

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#duntokcok #singlish #singapore

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