Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Speak untainted English!

Here's a brilliant video about the things we say wrong! (Thanks Anna @ Goannatree for the tip!)

In Singapore, we have our own brand of English as well. It's called Singlish. Singaporean English. :P Basically a mish mash of English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and a whole slew of Chinese dialects, coupled with Singaporean's super fast talking and slang, Singlish is a whole new language of its own. But if you listen very closely, you'll realise that it really is

This topic on Singlish has been brought up several times by the government, who raised concerns about Singaporeans 'not speaking good English'. (But, as my friend pointed out, there's no such thing as good or bad English, just proper or improper English.) This caused quite a buzz in the community, and there were divided views with regards to this topic. Here's a little clip with Michelle Chong, our local artiste, on Singlish being 'banned' in Singapore. (Warning: It does contain some Singlish, and if you're not Singaporean you might not understand parts of it the first time round. Watch it again. And again. And then maybe you'll get it. If all else fails, drop me a comment and I'll explain it for you :P)

I'm actually proud of Singlish. It shows how a language, when used integrally with a multiracial society, can evolve and adapt to suit the nation. It's our unique identity. It sets us apart. It's Singapore. (Or Singaporean, if you want to use proper English.) After all, no language is pure and untainted. And Singlish, spoken 'properly' with the correct 'syntax' and slang, is not easy to learn. You've gotta be Singaporean to speak it well, or at least be in Singapore for quite a few years.

Perhaps we could liken Singlish to Britain's 'posh' English versus their 'street slang'. However, unlike England where their posh British English shows higher learning and better education, Singlish is actually the street slang that if you claim to be Singaporean, Singlish is a 'die die must say'

But I do agree - we still need to be able to speak proper English, because we're not large enough to be a self sustaining country that doesn't rely on business with international countries. But to me, that doesn't mean we forgo Singlish. After all, if the Swedes can learn both Swedish and English (and some French and Italian as well), why can't we learn English and Singlish?

Singaporean friends, what say you? And what about the rest of you guys out there? What do YOU think?

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