Singlish1
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  • 1. + Liwen Huang ENG101-01N Instructor: Brian RayUniversity of North Carolina at Greensboro+ When Singaporeans speak English Just forget about grammar and pronunciation for a while
  • 2. + Introduction Some background Singapore is a Southeast However, when people go to Asian country and his official Singapore, they found they language is English. Besides could not understand what that, 75% of Singaporean is Singaporeans talked about Chinese, so the majority of them actually. How come that can speak Chinese, including happened? At first, let us listen Mandarin, Cantonese and to a Singaporean speak English. Hokkien Chinese. On the other SIMI IPhone4S in Singapore. hand, Singaporeans usually After listening to this audio speak English in their daily lives online, could you understand and they do not think they have what they said and how much a strange accent when they could you understand? speak English.2
  • 3. When Singaporean+ speak English What and Why Singlish? First and foremost, Singapore English, and they bring the Malaysian English to the Singapore Singlish, has six main parts, which are English. In recent year, Singapore has a strong English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, economic relationship with the U.S., so the Malaysian, and Indian languages. Singlish Singaporean learn a lot of American English and use it is an English-based creole language, which to the daily life. All of them cause the Singlish has is a kind of creole language. After that, the different characteristics from diverse languages all creole language “is a stable natural over the world and this unique phenomenon of language developed from the mixing of Singlish becomes a unique character of Singapore. As parent languages; creoles differ from everyone knows that Singapore is not only an pidgins (which are believed by scholars to International trading and financial, but also a tourist be necessary precedents of creoles) in country. Moreover, Singapore is a multicultural that they have been nativized by children country, which has many different races. as their primary language, making them Consequently, many tourists come to Singapore have features of natural languages that because they are attracted by the unique situation of are normally missing from pidgins” cross culture of Singapore, especially the language. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creole_lan Demonstrating this point, Lubna Alsagoff observes guage). that ‘English, although one language, has many voices Before talking about Singlish, people in order to realize ‘different cultural ways of thinking have to know about their history. and behaving, characteristic of the Singaporean Singapore was the colony of British from experience’ (see also Bhatt 2005: 25)’” (342). 1819 to 1965. Therefore, during that Additionally, Singlish is not only a branch of Standard period, the standard official language is English, but also a bridge, which connect with British English. Moreover, most of different languages and cultures because Singlish Singaporeans are the immigration from commixes English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, China, so they speak English with Chinese Malaysian and Indian languages and all of these slang and accents more or less. Besides people can understand and communicate with others that, few decades years ago, Singapore by Singlish. Therefore, as Lee Kuan Yew, former Prime was combined with Malaysia. As a result, Minister of Singapore, said, “today the lingua franca is many Malaysians immigrate to Singapore English, or Singlish (Lee 2005)” (342). 3
  • 4. + The Grammar of Singlish At first, the grammar of Singlish does not have so 3. Here it is the slowness of the printer many differences between the standard English, but it that is tropicalized (6). absorbs Chinese and other languages grammar more Another common grammar of Singlish is “Copula- or less because of multicultural situation. deletion (6)”, which means that in some situations, the The most frequent situation of Singlish grammar is copula verb is disappeared in Singlish conversation. topic-prominence, which is “the topic of the sentence For understanding this point, Jakob R. E. Leimgruber at the beginning of the sentence” (5). This kind of made some examples. grammar is from Chinese and Malay (Tan 2003). For 1. That boat ∅ very short one. (iii.C.2.f)
 easy understanding, this is an example from Tan. 2. My uncle ∅ staying there. (ii.M.1.m)
 1. Zh`e bˇen shu ̄ woˇ qu` nia ́n du ́-guo. 3. What ∅ your dialect? Panjabi? (ii.I.1.m) 这本书我去年读过。 4. The place ∅ called Sungei Buloh. This clf book 1sg last year read-exp (iii.M.gr) ‘I read this book last year.’ (Tan 2003: This unique grammar, using in English, is from 6)(5) Mandarin. Mandarin does not use copula verb. As a Besides that, not only noun phrase can be the topic in result, when Singaporeans speak English in their daily Singlish. For instance, lives, they usually ignore the copula verb. 2. Too slow lah, I find that printer. (Bao and Lye 2005: 279)4
  • 5. SSB (Standard Southern British)+ eCONomy ecoNOMic aCADemy acaDEMic eCONomy aCADemyPronunciation SEP (Singapore English Pronunciation) eCONonomicof Singlish aCADemic(DAVID DETERDING and ROBERT HVITFELDT, 1994). Additionally, in Singapore, people usually emphasize ‘I’, ‘you’, and ‘me’ in one sentence. In some cases, they are stressed in ‘have’ in conversation. Besides the grammar Finally, the third distinction is vowels. In Singlish, it does have long and short vowels.differences, there is another As a result,unforgettable difference seat/sit cart/cut caught/cot fool/full bed/badbetween Standard English these five pairs of words have same pronunciation in Singapore English (DAVIDand Singapore English. It is DETERDING and ROBERT HVITFELDT, 1994).the pronunciations ofSinglish. There is an audio ofSinglish chat and could youfind out what arepronunciation differencesbetween Singlish andEnglish? Singlish on chat. The first maindistinction of pronunciationsof Singlish is consonant.Generally, the Singaporeanchanges the voicelessconsonant to the voiceconsonant. For instance, thepronunciation of „curry‟ inStandard English is /ˈkʌri/,but in the Singlish thepronunciation changes to/ˈgʌri/. Furthermore, inSinglish, „three‟ and „tree‟have same pronunciation and“„then‟ has the same sound as„den‟” (DAVIDDETERDING and ROBERTHVITFELDT, 1994). After that, the seconddifference is stress situationin Singlish. In this part, someexamples will make it clearerand easier to understand. 5
  • 6. + Singlish, a unique cultural identity When Singaporeans speak English Although English-speakers, Moreover, Singlish is like a However, now he is very worried like British and Americans, could bridge, connecting different races about he cannot do anything in the not understand Singlish when they people, because it has so many U.S. when he visit and look after me, first visit Singapore or speak to elements of diverse languages. If because little American understand Singaporeans and at the same time, your English is not good as a native Mandarin. the Singapore government speaker, you do not need to worry Furthermore, every Singaporean encourages his citizens to speak about that you cannot communicate can understand more than one Standard English, Singlish is still with Singaporeans. It is because language, so it is very helpful when the most popular language in that you can add Mandarin or they do global business. Nowadays, Singapore. This fact shows that Cantonese in your English globalization is a main trend all over Singlish is not only a branch of conversation. It makes a great the world and owning a bilingual skill English, but also a unique cultural number of tourists feel comfortable is very significant. Therefore, it causes identity of Singapore. Even though, and convenient when they visit that Singaporean has a very strong Singapore has cleanest streets, Singapore. For instance, when the superiority when they compete with luxury shopping malls, and author’s father went to Singapore, others in the international market. wonderful tourist attraction, he could talk with local people in Sentosa, it has Singlish, which is an simple English and Mandarin. unforgettable point of Singapore.6
  • 7. +ConclusionWhen Singaporean speak English When Singaporeans speak English, it is hard to understand, but this phenomenon is the one of their cultural characters. Singapore English has its own specialties like grammar and pronunciation rules. When people listen to the Singlish, they would think this language is really funny and unique. Someone may believe that Singlish is not a language strictly because it just mixes several different languages. Nevertheless, precisely because of mixes from different languages, it brings Singapore a unique attractive point to everyone from every country and almost everyone could communicate with others in Singlish. On the street, in Singapore, people could find diverse races people live and work together very well and happy. It shows that Singlish has its unique influences to the Singapore. Reference Creole language, Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creole_language DAVID DETERDING and ROBERT HVITFELDT, The Features of Singapore English Pronunciation: Implications for Teachers, Teaching and Learning, 1994, Vol 15, No 1, pp. 98-107. LUBNA ALSAGOFF, English in Singapore: culture, capital and identity in linguistic variation, World Englishes, Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 336– 348, 2010. 7
  • 8. + When Singaporeans speak English+Liwen HuangENG101-01NInstructor: Brian RayUniversity of North Carolina at Greensboro