SINGAPORE — Is the government’s war on Singlish finally over? Our wacky, singsong creole may seem like the poor cousin to the island’s four official languages, but years of state efforts to quash it have only made it flourish. Now even politicians and officials are using it.

Trending at the moment is “ownself check ownself,” which was popularized by Pritam Singh, a member of Parliament from the opposition Workers’ Party. He was mocking the ruling People’s Action Party (P.A.P.) for saying that the government was clean and honest enough to act as its own guardian.

Singlish is a patchwork patois of Singapore’s state languages — English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil — as well as Hokkien, Cantonese, Bengali and a few other tongues. Its syntax is drawn partly from Chinese, partly from South Asian languages.

“Steady poon pee pee,” from the Hokkien, means to be so poised as to deserve an admiring whistle. A snooty person is “yaya papaya”: with yaya perhaps originating from yang-yang (god of gods in ancient Malay) or jâjâ (father in old Javanese), and the “papaya” thrown in for the derisive rhyme. “Blur like sotong” means to be clueless: Sotong is Malay for squid.

Singlish is nimble, practical and dynamic — everyone who speaks it shapes it. Which may explain why, after emerging from obscurity half a century ago like an accidental byproduct of decolonization, over the years it has become Singapore’s most political language.

During British colonial times, English was the language of administration, while street talk was carried out in pasar Malay, or market Malay. English continued to be the preferred means of instruction and governance even after the island became fully independent in 1965, partly because its global currency seemed to advance the young government’s modernization agenda.

All of Singapore’s citizens had to learn English, and also Malay, Mandarin or Tamil. In particular, the government took nation-building to mean harmonizing what was spoken by the ethnic Chinese, a majority of the population. From 1979, the authorities aggressively pursued the Speak Mandarin Campaign, requiring every ethnic Chinese to abandon other forms of Chinese, like Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese and Hakka.

But the more the state pushed its purist bilingual policy, the more the territory’s languages met and mingled in Singlish. Through playful, day-to-day conversations, the unofficial composite quickly became a formidable cultural phenomenon. Sylvia Toh Paik Choo’s humor books celebrating Singlish in the 1980s — “Eh, Goondu!” (“Hey, Stupid!”) and “Lagi Goondu!” (“Even More Stupid!”) — were rare national bestsellers and the defining books of the era.

A Singlish Primer

The trend worried the government. State ministers, rather than re-examining pedagogy in schools, began blaming Singlish for declining English standards. The government also saw it as insular and inhospitable to foreigners, and therefore bad for business.

In 1999, the country’s late great statesman Lee Kuan Yew declared Singlish “a handicap we must not wish on Singaporeans.” The next year, the government rolled out the Speak Good English Movement.

Singlish, now an enemy of the state, went underground. But unlike the beleaguered Chinese dialects, it had a trump card: It could connect speakers across ethnic and socioeconomic divides like no other tongue could. And in the eyes of the young, continued criticism by the state made it the language of cool.

Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen’s “The Coxford Singlish Dictionary” was first published in 2002, and has sold over 30,000 copies. (“Coxford” is a portmanteau combining “talk cock,” Singlish for nonsense, and “Oxford.”) Singlish’s status grew so powerful that the Chinese dialects took refuge in it to re-seed themselves.

The government’s war on Singlish was doomed from the start: Even state institutions and officials have nourished it, if inadvertently. The compulsory national service, which brings together male Singaporeans from all walks of life, has only underlined that Singlish is the natural lingua franca of the grunts. The tourism board can’t help but showcase it as one of Singapore’s few unique cultural creations.

In his annual national address in 2006, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a precious contribution to the lexicon. Hoping to one-up a podcast mocking the P.A.P. that involves an argument over whether a noodle dish contains pork liver — it’s a long story — Mr. Lee mentioned another popular noodle dish, mee siam, without cockles (“mee siam mai hum”). But mee siam never has cockles, and Mr. Lee’s blunder happily became Singlish for being out of touch.

Singlish seems to thrive on codifying political resistance. To flip-flop on policy matters is to prata, after the South Indian pancake made by flipping dough on a hot plate, another favorite Singaporean dish. To politicize is to “politisai,” and classic Singlish, with its lazy end-consonant and dirty pun: “Sai” is vulgar slang for feces in Hokkien.

Finally grasping that this language is irrepressible, our leaders have begun to use it publicly in recent years, often in strategic attempts to connect with the masses.

During a naturalization ceremony in 2012, as Mr. Lee was encouraging the new citizens to integrate, he conceded, “and if you can understand Singlish, so much the better.” (He should know.)

At a rally during last year’s campaign for the general election, the P.A.P. leader Teo Ser Luck promised voters a new bus station, afterschool care centers, facilities for the elderly and more. But only “when we are voted in, ah!,” he warned with a smile, because “LIU LIAN BO BAO JIAK!” No guarantee of durians to eat!