I am currently in Singapore. It is interesting for me to consider times when I don't understand something, and also instances when they don't understand me.
The only instance so far in which I have misunderstood something is when I asked a man in an MRT station how to get to the DBS Bank, and he replied 'Exit C'. But he said it as [esiʔsi], and I heard it as SCC. (Maybe Singapore Cricket Club?)
Three things may have contributed to this token of misunderstanding:
- the missing /k/ in 'exit'
- the glottal stop [ʔ] in place of /t/ at the end of 'exit'
- a lack of distinction between the short vowel in the second syllable of 'exit' and the vowel in 'C'
My feeling is that the missing /k/ was the key factor. A glottal stop at the end of 'exit' is not unexpected (and is probably the way that I would have said the word); and, in the absence of a recording, I can't be sure about the quality of the vowels in 'exit' and 'C'. But the use of [s] for the consonants in the middle of 'exit' were problematic.