My interest in Linguistics started from my love for Korean. But as I read and learn more, I begin to reflect and ponder about our very own version of English: Singlish. The term Singlish is derived from Singapore English, formed in the same way as Konglish (Korean English) and Manglish (Malaysian English).
It’s really a love-hate relationship. Logic,reason and books tells me that there is no such thing as an ‘inferior’ language or ‘substandard language’. I do agree, but somehow I still cring whenever I hear people speak Singlish, especially in more formal situations.
I know that you can’t just sit on the fence. We are always taught to pick a clear stand in our thesis right? (: But the 2 sides of me are vying to claim victory over the other. On the MRT trip back home from Orchard, I spent the entire time engaging in internal self debate. (wow what a way to past the time :P )
So first thing first, do I use Singlish?
Well, I am no language purist and I do say the occasional ‘lah’ and ‘lohs’ and other vocabulary and grammar unique to Singlish. But I make it a point to blog and write in proper sentences and in ‘standard’ English. In formal situations, I definitely speak in standard English. For the casual chit-chat, I would say that 90% of our speech is in proper English, with some insertions of Singlish here and there.
Pro – Singlish
I am proud that Singapore has its own version of English. When my foreigner friends display their command of Singlish, I would be like ‘wow! you know Singlish! that’s so cool.’ Language is a strong identify of a person. Through a person’s speech, you can know his country of origin and maybe even the region he’s from. I’m sure you have heard of comments like ‘Oh! He’s got a British accent.’ ‘He sounds like he’s from the South’ etc. Likewise, we can identify a fellow Singapore with Singlish. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be really relieved and happy to hear a fellow Singaporean when I’m abroad.
I’ve been reading up on Linguistics recently, and it was said that language is always and constantly undergoing changes. It is impossible to have 2 groups of people, each with their own language, to live side by side without their languages undergoing changes and influencing each other over time.
Using this line of argument, perhaps Singlish is the best evidence of Singapore’s multi-racial society. Singlish absorbs vocabulary and grammar structure from Malay, Chinese, the various dialects, Indian etc.
From another point of view…
But sometimes, it really irks me to listen to speech punctuated with ‘lahs’ and ‘lohs’ at EVERY sentence. Personally I don’t mind bits of Singlish here and there, but too much anything is never good. In the MRT today, the man besides me was talking on his handphone.
‘eh tell boss i not coming tomolo k.’
‘you eat lunch already anot’
haha typical Singlish. (: Throughout his entire conversation, I aim to find a Singlish-free sentence. But I didn’t succeed.
Back in my secondary school days, I use much more Singlish. Perhaps it’s due to my the influence of my friends then. For a period of time, i used to BloG liKe ThiS aNd ThiNK it’S verY CoOl… I like to use …. alot too… after every sentence.. i will always type…. but now.. don’t you think it’s a LitTle iRiTatIng If I KeeP doIng This hoR???
A friend once commented that this is the first time in his life that he has seen a girl blog in proper sentences all the way.
‘wahh. like writing essay lidat!’
HAHA I was rendered speechless at that moment.
I started this post with the aim of sorting out my thoughts and coming to a conclusion of some sorts. But I lost steam halfway through. I should have brought my laptop out with me. Thoughts are best penned down when fresh in the mind. HMM.
Let me stress again, all the above is entirely my own opinion and I have totally no intent of criticism or anything. I’m just trying to put all my jumbled-up thoughts into words. So.. sorry for being a little incoherent at times. :)
and I DO use Singlish okay!