Singlish as defined by young educated Chinese Singaporeans

  • 1 McGill University, Montreal


Colloquial Singapore English, or Singlish, exists in an environment characterised by strong language planning aimed at demoting it in favour of Standard English, as well as in a linguistic ecology featuring a number of languages that have had an impact on its current form. An actual definition of Singlish, beyond scholarly linguistic analyses, is less than straightforward, and this article sets out to address this. Chinese Singaporeans were asked to define Singlish, and elements of Hokkien (one of the major substrate languages involved in the emergence of the contact variety) in conjunction with Singlish were subjected to attitudinal ratings. The results call for a redefinition of Singlish not in terms of a clear set of features that set it apart from other varieties, but rather as a combination of linguistic resources that combine to create a stylistic repertoire appropriate for the expression of, among other stances, local identity.

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IJSL is dedicated to the development of the sociology of language as a truly international and interdisciplinary field in which various approaches - theoretical and empirical - supplement and complement each other, contributing thereby to the growth of language-related knowledge, applications, values and sensitivities. The journal features topically-focused issues with individual contributions on small languages and small language communities.