(1) Singaporean Chinese and Malaysian Chinese

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Sep 3, 2017 23:46
I have two Chinese friends who work in Singapore. They constantly post pictures of their lives in this city state. In their pictures, all signs are in English, which I found very interesting. I know English is their official language and I once stumbled upon a Singaporean government website, whose working languages included English, Chinese, and Malaysian. But among these languages, English stood above the others. (I noticed that they adopted British spelling and punctuation.) “Singaporeans’ English must be as good as Brits, Aussies, and Americans,” I thought. However, the aforementioned two friends always complain to me that the Singaporean English is “weird,” and it is actually Singlish. Three months ago, I made a phone call to Singapore, and the operator’s English was so heavily accented that I could basically understand nothing.

Interestingly, I came across a few Singaporean users here on Lang-8. They chose English as their first language in setting and corrected non-native speakers’ entries, including mine. They were great editors, whose corrections were “gooded” by some American and British users. Looking back, I’m curious about how native their English is. I have never been there, and my assumption is that most Singaporeans speak Singlish in their day-to-day lives but are taught British English at school. Based on that, I guess that young Singaporeans, who study in the schools where “Standard English” became dominant a couple of decades ago, can speak two variants, one (an English-based creole) in their daily lives to blend into the de facto Singlish-speaking society, the other (British English) in academia.

Another interesting thing about those Singaporean users is that they came on Lang-8 studying various foreign languages except for Chinese. Demographically, nearly 80% of Singaporeans are ethically Chinese. They can speak Mandarin to various degrees, so this language is more than just a foreign language to them. One of Singaporean Lang-8 users here once joked to me that most Singaporeans’ Chinese skill is no better than elementary-school level. I read what some of them wrote and found it indeed pretty colloquial. But it’s already so amazing, considering Chinese is not their first language. As for their English skills, I guess their academic writing is perhaps even better than some Americans’ and British people’s, but their English can be less idiomatic than their counterparts.

I heard Singaporeans don’t like Chinese mainlanders for some reason. Conversely, here in mainland China, I constantly see online hate speech towards them….. ⊙﹏⊙;;
我有两个朋友在新加坡工作,经常看到他们发朋友圈展示他们在新加坡的生活。在照片里,新加坡的各种标语都是英语,很有趣。我知道英语是新加坡的官方语言,还曾经偶然进过新加坡的政府网站。网站的工作语言有英语、中文和马来语。但是,英语占据首要地位(据我观察,他们使用的是英式拼写和标点)。我心里想,“新加坡人的英语肯定和英美澳人士一样好!” 但是,我的那两个朋友经常向我抱怨新加坡英语很奇怪,实际上是一种Singlish。三个月前,我打了一个电话到新加坡,接线员的英语口音实在是太重,我根本听不懂她在说什么。

有趣的是,我在Lang-8上碰到过几个新加坡朋友。他们将英语设置为母语,然后修改非母语者的日志(包括我的)。他们修改地很好,经常被英美朋友点赞。回想起来,我很感兴趣他们的英语到底有多“native“。我从来没有去过新加坡,我猜测应该是新加坡人在日常生活中说singlish,但是学校里面教的应该是英式英语。根据这个逻辑,我猜测因为新加坡的学校几十年前开始推广英语教学,所以年轻人应该会说两种英语变体,在日常生活中融入社会要说singlish,学术上则说英式英语。

另外一件有趣的事情是,很多新加坡的Lang-8用户来这里学各种各样的外语,但不学中文。将近80%的新加坡人是华人,也能说一口不同程度的中文。所以,中文也不是普通意义上的外语。一个新加坡lang-8网友跟我自嘲说,他们的中文都是小学生级别的。我看了一下他们所写的中文文章,确实很口语化。但这已经很棒了,毕竟中文不是他们的第一语言。至于他们的英语能力,我猜测他们的学术写作可能比一些英美人士还要好,但是可能没有那么地idiomatic。

我听说新加坡人不喜欢大陆人,反过来,在大陆这边,我经常看到声讨新加坡人的网络帖子。。。汗。。。
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