This is more than just homework..

and the English-Singlish debate continues..
October 17, 2010, 2:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The website above is a forum under Straits Times, that discusses about the never ending debate between English and Singlish. The debate was sparked off by Dr Lee who put today’s context into Marx’s analogies. However, i feel that Dr Lee has a very shallow perception of Singlish. To me, i can safely say that Singlish has become the ‘mother tongue’ of Singapore. It is a language that can only be understood among locals and anyone that resides outside this tiny red dot would not catch a word we are talking about. Just because it is not a lingo that is understood internationally, it does not mean that we should just chuck it all aside.

Many campaigns have been set up to promote proper English speaking in our country. Most of us would have noticed that in the past, or even the present, many advertisements are about proper English speaking, ones that use many celebrities to showcase their fluent and error-free grammatical prowess. Indeed there is a need to promote such globally recognized communicative language, of course for a good purpose, to be able to communicate with the world, simple as that.

However, the argument that Dr Lee brought about proves himself to be the least “Singaporean-like”, if he was a Singaporean to start with. With our multilingual and cosmopolitan ethnicity, we have brought about what is termed as “Singlish”, also known as the Singaporean-English. Natives would be familiar with lingos like “Lah, Loh, Meh” mixed up with some Chinese dialects as well as Malay. This just goes to show how inter-connected our culture has become. This proves that the history of Singlish itself was originated from not one nor two, but from all the races that are in Singapore! Why would we want to abolish our very own culture and creation, which happens to point towards it being our national identity? There is pride in using such language and of course, an extend of familiarity between natives using Singlish. That in itself would be a plus point in preserving Singlish, a major one in fact.

Ardent defenders of our home-brewed language, only recognized by our own native people, would choose to defend not because they are not able to embrace the global language of English in its full form, as seen in the comments regarding the article posted by Dr Lee. The English-Singlish debate has thrown up a vociferous group defending the use of Singlish. However, this group seems to be made up of people who are able to speak (or at least write) excellent English when they choose to.

Yes there is a need to speak proper English when its needed, like communicating with tourists, meetings and of course, educational purposes as well. I support Dr Lee’s argument in using Singlish appropriately, but definitely not abolishing it.

All in all, the main reason to preserve Singlish, is that this very lingo that we have created is very close to our hearts and it defines us as Singaporeans, it being a national identity. Its nothing to be shameful about because other countries actually do have their own lingo, countries like Canada and Australia, yet they have nothing to be shameful about. We can use Singlish, but we must know when and where to use it.


16 Comments so far
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great arguments on this topic. exceptional literature on this.

Comment by Dudley

I agree with you that we could use Singlish, so long we know when are the appropriate stituations. Singlish helps to minimise cultural barriers among us, and it brings a sense of familiarity when we’re outside of SG. It is one of the few “culture” we established for ourselves over the years, and therefore, the more we should value it.

Comment by dreamfulrhapsody

I think the best way to resolve this debate is for people of Singapore to be able to distinguish between the right occasion to use proper English and the other occasions when they can let down their hair and speak in their ‘mother tongue’. It is when people confuse these two occasions that causes the government to try and do something to correct it.
Having said that, I stand by you and millions of other REAL Singaporeans to say that Singlish should never be eradicated. The government can try but the people will never give it up.
The foreigners who think otherwise, (though i’ve never come across one) can put a sock in it.

Comment by Dinesh Sivapragsam

Since we are not given a choice for the place of our birth, why not just embrace our lingo with postivity. With education now, i am pretty sure we all know when to use this singlish lingo and when not to. we can control it. so to the man in the Dr Lee, if you are not happy with the way we SINGAPOREANS talk, too bad for you i guess.

Comment by Kailing

Singlish is exactly that, Singapore English. How can you abolish something that is so obviously part of us? Balance should be the way to go, instead of mindless destruction.

Comment by Philip

I am very much pleased to find out that you are also defending our country’s national identity. Your arguments are just and well balanced, and of course, needless to say, i can see your patriotic stand in this subject. Indeed we are proud to be a Singaporean and use Singlish because of familiarity that is generated while using it. The fact that you brought up a point about using it at the right time shows that you know when to use it and when not to, which actually isnt harmful in anyway. Thus, well written! Preserve Singlish in the right way!

Comment by Rachel

i agree with your stand. however, there have been reports showing how students are too used to speaking singlish that they accidentally use it in their school work as well. the fact that we sms, talk on MSN/facebook/twitter every single day does not help as we tend to speak/write more singlish than english. so i think that besides having a balance between the two, we need to put in effort in minimising the use of singlish.

Comment by naiyla

I agree that singlish is a unique feature of Singapore, and to make it die out is blasphemy. However, in this global village of ours, we must be able to communicate in proper English to survive. I believe the concerns right now is that we are not able to speak proper English, given that too much singlish is used in our everyday live. Hence, a balance must be found.

Comment by Robert

A Singaporean usually has these qualities: kiasu, kiasee, and uses singlish. To take any of these away would be like taking away his unique-ness.

Comment by Felicia

I believe we must learn how to use proper English when the time calls for it. Don’t take away our uniqueness, for if we do that, we are just another country being “westernized”.

Comment by Roger

Take away singlish, that’ll be like taking away part of our national identity. We should not be ashame of our singlish, it is special, it is us.

Comment by Robin

I agree that there is a need for the younger people to learn proper English. I agree that right now, singlish is a prevalent part of our everyday lives. However, this is part of us, and to take something away from us would only have a negative impact. You are, after all, taking away part of what we are.

Comment by Michelle

You can identify a Singaporean in any part of the world; by their generous usage of “lah”,”leh” and “lor”. This us a language only unique to singaporeans. This sets up a difference between us and the rest of the world. Knowing this,would you still bear to remove singlish?

Comment by Micheal

Singlish is part of what we are. To take that away is practically a crime!

Comment by Phyllis

Singaporeans are bilingual. I believe learning proper english while using singlish will not be impossible.

Comment by Ann

Would taking away part of our identity help? What should be focused on should be how we can learn to use proper English, and banning us from using singlish is not the right way! Will our future generations not be able to enjoy using singlish, and be proud of it?

Comment by Angel

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