Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Singlish: a culture

In the airport today, I heard a girl, around 3 years old, saying to her mom "the MRT is long long what...". Wow, the girl is speaking Singlish!! Her mom doesn't seem perturbed and why should she be perturbed? She is speaking Singlish as well anyway. I'd tend to think that a child can only learn to speak those language and phrases being spoken by people living around her. Hence, drawing conclusion from that idea, it could only mean that people around the young girl speak Singlish.

If the language called Singlish is indeed so prevalent and so accepted widely in the society, I think it should really be accepted as a Singapore culture. I find it rather ironic for the government of Singapore to cook, brew, and look for possible Singapore culture up and down while trying the best to bury Singlish, which arguably is the strongest Singapore culture at the moment. For the government, somehow Singlish is being treated like a plagued or perhaps unwanted children, owing to the fact that Singlish is perhaps thought as "broken English". It's rather apalling that people generally accepted and amazed by people who speak multiple languages while the chance to have Singaporeans having English as a second language seems like eating the forbidden fruit. Why is it so difficult to accept that Singlish is just another form of language and it's possible to accept Singlish and proper English spoken side by side as two different languages.

Even Bahasa Indonesia is formulated from Malay and improved over time. It should be possible to leverage Singlish and differentiate it from English further as well. Rather than seeking for inexistent culture, the government of Singapore should have just accepted the fact that Singlish is indeed a unique Singapore culture.

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