Just Saying

Guys, please stop saying 'bro', 'dude', and 'mate'

Men only use "bro" to add a layer of sugar over a hard nugget of compressed fertiliser

Listen: You have to stop saying "bro". I'm your friend, and I have to tell you that you sound like an idiot when you use "bro", or "dude", and "mate".

You are not allowed to use "bro" the same way your parents cannot use "cool". It does not sound right in your mouth. I cringe for you.

The only time you can use "dude" is when :

• You have a surfboard under your arm and are about to hit some gnarly waves.

• You just base-jumped off Mount Faber.

• You own a chain of Polynesian-themed bars.

"Dude" is used a lot on the Internet. It is used most often when someone wants to act superior but does not want to sound like a prat, even when he is being a gigantic prat.

"Chill, dude. I was only joking."

"Dude, if you like immigrants so much, why don't you invite them to live in your house?"

"Dude, how about we both admit we don't know enough about history to say whether Hitler was a good or bad person? lol"

Qualifying a "dude" with an "lol" is the last resort of the person who has run out of anything worthwhile to say, pretends to give up, moves in for a handshake, then kicks you between the legs and runs away.

I used to be fine with "bro" until I noticed that men only use it to add a layer of sugar over a hard nugget of compressed fertiliser.

"Bro" is the verbal equivalent of a co-worker who drops by your desk and gives you a back massage - it is an awkward move, made worse by how it is just a prelude to a metaphorical slap in the face.

"Bro" is often followed by "can I get a discount?" after a deal is set. It is invoking the bro code at the last minute, which is strictly brohibited unless there has been a brolific and brogressive display of broactive behaviour. Get with the brogramme, guys.

Another thing about "bro" - it is the favourite of drive-time deejays. It is used in the sorts of ways - as punctuation, as a punchline, as a time-filler - that make me want to punch the car radio. As I am usually in a taxi, that would be unwise. I await the day when a drive-time show is aired using only the word "bro", uttered in a variety of tones.

Bro-ey deejays are like Singaporeans who go gaga for US President Donald Trump on Facebook - they are borrowing an irrelevant stance, when there are more direct methods of communication available.

For example, the deejays can just say "oi", and the pro-Trump Singaporeans can say "I'm borrowing this frog meme and red hat because I enjoy playing the victim of an imaginary enemy". It would save a lot of time.

It is the same with "mate". The conditions for its use are very restricted in Singapore. You can use "mate" if:

• You have taken a bite of Vegemite sandwich and despite that, intend to finish it.

• When someone is speaking, you can spot if he or she is from Wellington or Sydney.

• And then make the appropriate sheep- or kangaroo-related joke that will not get you punched in the face.

Owning a condo in Perth does not grant one the right to use "mate", nor does a degree from RMIT University, doubly so if it is from the affiliate at the Singapore Institute of Management.

For women, I've been told their equivalent of "mate" or "bro" is "babe". Like "bro", "babe" is meant to flatter, implying that the speaker has granted the other the wonderful gift of closeness, thus giving the user of the word the right to be a total donkey.

Babe and bro users are like those who preface everything with "believe me" or "trust me". They should be read as a warning that you should count the silverware after they leave the house.

So please stop. You have choices. "Hey", or "oi" or "I'm about to act like a complete baboon so could you..." are acceptable alternatives.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 21, 2017, with the headline 'Guys, please stop saying 'bro', 'dude', and 'mate''. Print Edition | Subscribe