Singlish is a minority language mainly used in Singapore and some other Asian countries. The language is mostly associated with slang and syntaxes, and is commonly practiced in informal speeches. According to Wong (2015), proclaiming English the national language in Singapore for all the races after gaining independence led to the birth of the alternative tongue. In fact, a mixture of representatives of various nationalities and ethnic groups greatly contributed to the growth of the language. They would combine some grammar and words with English thereby creating Singlish. Such tendency became common and widespread in the country.
Language Peculiarities and Usage
Singlish is a combination of English and other languages and dialects. It has attracted much attention from scholars due to its large usage in Singapore particularly and in the Asian region generally. As Cavallaro and Serwe (2010) state, Singapore is the leading country in terms of speaking or using the language. Its mode of communication in the region is characterized with active usage of slang as the result of the infusion of the Singapore ethnic language with English. For instance, a person will respond by saying ‘eat already’ if they are invited for a meal, but they have already had dinner. The use of this language has been observed since independence that is more than 50 years ago. Despite the government’s attempts to make English the national language, Singlish has always been the official language of the general public. According to Wong (2015), slang in Singapore is not going to lose its popularity in the near future due to its extensive presence in informal setting. Therefore, people regularly communicate through the minority language thus making it widespread. Besides, even though English is the language of educational process, students also always prefer the alternative language in communicating. What is more, slang can be utilized in different industries, except for official gatherings, making it perfect for both literate and illiterate persons.
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It is necessary to point out that that those speaking the language and those studying it are aware of one characteristic of Singlish. The peculiar feature of the language is that it is only used in informal settings. However, as Wong (2015) notes, the minority language is a social marker. In the region, a person, who can comfortably switch between English and Singlish, is considered to be educated. Due to such status, those, able to switch between the languages, are much respected in the society.
Widespread usage of Singlish has made the language more popular among the Singaporeans. In fact, a Singlish dictionary has been documented, making the learning of it easier and thereby the most popular language in the region. Nonetheless, another characteristic that facilitates utilization of the language in Singapore and Asia is that it does not imply numerous rules. In English, nouns and verbs are used according to certain sequence and pattern, making the language orderly. However, for Singlish, there are no rules governing the language. For this reason, individuals have the freedom of communicating as they please. There are no strict limitations stating how exactly nouns or verbs should precede one another. According to the nature of language and self-expression, no one can correct the sentence of another person. In the opinion of the communicator, they are right, since they are the originators of their ideas. Due to flexibility of the language, it is easy to use in everyday communication, which contributes to its popularity in the streets. Therefore, with the freedom of expressing oneself as one wishes, people feel confident and comfortable in the process of interaction, without the fear of being wrong. At the same time, due to the spread of the alternative language, there have been increased campaigns in the region encouraging people to speak official English.
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External Factors Facilitating Language Growth
Various factors have contributed to the birth and growth of the language in Singapore and the Asian region in general. Most importantly, its popularity has significantly contributed to its diversity. Communication in Singlish is easy and comfortable, which motivates people to engage each other through the language. Singaporeans are well known for the prestige they hold in their ethnic languages, and this has contributed to Singlish thriving in the country. Crystal (2013) argues that most often, people take the language for granted. In this case, they ignore the impact of other languages and their importance. In Asian countries, foreign languages are mostly ignored. Considering the ignorance of foreign languages such as English, citizens prefer Singlish, which they see as a homegrown way of communication. For this reason, it has gained roots in the region, making it the most preferable and efficient. Besides, the citizens of the Asian countries see language as a means of cultural representation and the way of communication. Due to the prestige associated with their cultures, Singlish is much respected thus leading to its large use. Lee (2015) also suggests that the culture of the Asian people has greatly contributed to the diversity of the Singlish language.
How it works:
The presence of multiple races in Singapore sometimes makes communication difficult but at the same time enhances the growth of Singlish. To allow for accommodation of all members of different ethnic groups, they insert some English words randomly, making it possible to understand each other. The mixture of the ethnic groups acts as an opening to the success of the Singlish language. Hashim and Hassan (2003) argue that use of Singlish in the promotion of products on social media and television has enabled the minority language to thrive in the region. Due to the usage of the language in identification of products, individuals find it interesting and the see it as the one that identifies with the region. For this reason, communicating the language makes the people feel more appreciated. Illiteracy among a large part of the residents also contributes to the spread of the language. Those without formal education find it easier to communicate in Singlish and find it a better means of communication.
Conclusively, it is clear that Singlish is a minority language. One of the major areas where it is evidently popular is Singapore and Asia. The lack of order of nouns or verbs makes it more acceptable than any other language. Thanks to this feature, it has been widely adopted and has become an informal means of communication in the region. It is mostly associated with the use of slang. It should also be mentioned that the cultural diversity in the region has played a great role in the growth of the language popularity. Residents of the region put a lot of emphasis on their cultural languages thus making it easier to speak in Singlish. The use of the language in the promotion of products also makes the form of communication more acceptable. However, English language can be promoted in the region by employing teachers with Singlish knowledge. In such a way, they will help the citizens adopt official English gradually in the future.