Analysis in Detail a Particular Variety of Singapore English – Term Paper Example

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The paper "Analysis in Detail a Particular Variety of Singapore English" is a great example of a term paper on education.   There have been different observations among linguistic scholars over what Singapore English specifically entails and what it purposely excludes (Gupta 2010). What is unanimous is that Singaporean English refers to a variety of English, a localized and nativized form of English as a global language that is congruent with local (in this case Singaporean) indigenous culture and language (Yano 2001). Khachru and Nelson (1996) refer to Singapore English as a variety of English found in the “ outer circle” where English has been historically institutionalized and plays important roles in governance, popular education, culture, or literary creativity.

However, unlike most other forms of world Englishes shared by culturally homogenous groups such as China English, Singapore is ethnically diverse and multicultural in nature raising questions about the very existence of what might be labeled a Singaporean culture itself (Wierzbicka 2003). This is due to the fact that despite English being the dominant language in Singapore, Singapore is a multicultural, multiracial, and multilingual society.

This essay will analyze Singapore English in its social and political context. The essay will first identify the various sub-varieties of Singapore English as a World English and their social and political context of Singapore English, indicating how each sub-variety is acquired and how it is used. The essay will then discuss some of the features of these three sub-varieties of Singapore English and identify the various political, social, and cultural roles played by Singapore English. Singapore English Singapore officially obtained full independence in 1965. Singapore’ s population consists mainly of Chinese at 77 percent with minority Malays and Indians at 14 percent and 8 percent respectively.

Owing to its cultural and political roots, English is just one of four official languages in the multicultural society that is Singapore alongside Malay, Tamil (Indian), and Mandarin (Chinese) (Wierzbicka 2003). These different languages are linguistic markers for three different cultures which are reflected in the way these languages are spoken in Singapore. English is the dominant language by virtue of being the language of the former colonial power Britain The interactions of these cultures has produced Singapore English- spanning a wide variety of languages from Singapore Standard English (SSE), colloquial Singapore English (SCE) to ‘ Singlish’ (Wierzbicka 2003). Platt (1980) demonstrates some of the social, cultural, and political roles played by Singapore English through the classification of the varieties of Singapore English into three sociolects or linguistic dialects which serve as markers for socioeconomic status.

The sociolects can be thought of as a speech continuum, with acrolects representing the highest level of formality at one end and basilects the lowest level of informality or highest level of informality at the other end.

The acrolect is the most prestigious sub-variety of the speech continuum, spoken or used by the most educated speakers of English as a Second Language and in the case of Singapore English, the closest representation of the official standard of language (SBE). It is also a high form or H variety of English. The mesolect comes between the acrolect and the basilect within the continuum, as an intermediate sub-variety of the speech continuum spoken or used between and among users with the same level of education or even by educated speakers for informal purposes.

The basilect, which is the lowest sub-variety of the speech continuum in Singapore English (L form), is mainly used by native speakers with little or no formal education or mastery of SBE although educated people might still use it for colloquial speech (Platt 1975: 1980). Within Singapore English, SSE can be considered as the acrolect, colloquial Singapore English (CSE) the mesolect, and Singlish as the representation of the basilect.

References

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Gupta, A.F 1992, ‘The Pragmatic particles of Singapore English’, Journal of Pragmatics, Vol 18, pp 31-57.

Gupta, A.F 2010, ‘Singapore Standard English Revisited’ in Lim, L et al (Eds) English in Singapore: Modernity and Management, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

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Platt, J. 1975, ‘The Singapore English speech continuum and its basilect ‘Singlish’ as a ‘creoloid’ implicational scaling and its pedagogical implications’, Anthropological Linguistics, Vol. 17, No. 7, pp 363-374.

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Wierzbicka, A 2005, ‘Singapore English: A semantic and cultural perspective’, Multilingual, Vol 22, pp 327-366.

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Yano, Y., 2001, ‘World Englishes in 2000 and beyond', World Englishes, 20 (2), pp. 119- 131.

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