(1) Singaporean Chinese and Malaysian Chinese

  • 447
  • 24
  • 5
  • English 
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。