‘Shiok’: Word-leh! The Singlish version of Wordle is an overnight hit

If you’re addicted to playing Wordle (this writer can’t wait to play it at the stroke of midnight daily) and want an added challenge, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a Singlish version. 

Released just this month, it’s already got thousands of people playing. CNA Lifestyle spoke to its creator Sha-Mayn Teh, a Singaporean living in New York.

What’s your background?
My background is in software engineering. I’ve led engineering teams at Google and start-ups.

Why did you come up with this Singlish version of Wordle? What inspired you?
Wordle is a love story, and Word-leh was born out of friendship and community. I love word puzzles and have been playing Wordle for weeks with friends and family around the world. I think it’s brilliant how everyone solves the same daily challenge and we can connect with just simple little squares conveying either triumph or despair.

One day a good friend, Leigh Pasqual, sparked the idea of a Singlish version with one of my favourite Singlish words: “Bojio”. I was planning to build it from scratch, and then I found a great open-source Wordle clone and modified it to support Singlish.

When did you launch Word-leh?
I sent it on Feb 1 to close friends and family. A few friends posted it on social media yesterday (Feb 8) and it started blowing up.

How long did it take you to produce Word-leh?
It took me a day to get the initial site up and build a list of five-letter Singlish words from online dictionaries. Since then, I’ve been adding words and making small updates daily with a lot of support and feedback from my friends. 

How close is Word-leh to Wordle? Are there daily challenges? At what point do the challenges run out?
Word-leh is pretty close to Wordle, minus “hard mode”. The answer is a Singlish word, but you can guess in English. You get one challenge a day and there are two months’ worth of challenges right now. 

Can you describe the responses you’ve received or seen on Word-leh?
There were almost 10,000 people playing Word-leh yesterday! I’ve seen a lot of excitement especially from Wordle enthusiasts who have started playing it every day. There was a little controversy about spelling i.e. “walao” vs “walau” and a small number of complaints about missing words. 

How do you feel about the response you have got so far?
I’m excited that Word-leh got so popular so quickly. I’ve been laughing a lot, connecting with new people and “spiaking” lots of Singlish. That’s what it’s all about. It’s just for fun, lah!

How would you rate Word-leh in terms of difficulty compared to Wordle?
I’d say a little more difficult in the beginning, mainly because there aren’t as many five-letter Singlish words. One tip is to guess in English to eliminate letters on each try. If you get stuck, Spiaking Singlish by Gwee Li Sui and Colin Goh’s Coxford English Dictionary are fantastic and hilarious resources.

Are there plans to develop Word-leh further?
I’m open to suggestions. I might make a six-letter version. Huat ah! 

You can play Word-leh here. 

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