Author Topic: BBC - The language the government tried to suppress  (Read 3246 times)

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Offline Mor Ephrem

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BBC - The language the government tried to suppress
« on: September 24, 2016, 04:06:13 PM »
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Jerlyne Ong, a Singaporean now living in Canada, sends a message to a friend back home: “Cannot imagine sia. In Singapore, you strike, you lose your job. But ya, the postal service stopped liao. Cannot agree, buay song, so liddat lor. No postal service for now. Also dunno how long some more. So pek chek.”

Is that English or not? Most of Singapore’s 6 million people speak it, but they don’t agree either. What they do agree is that it’s Singlish. Singlish is the unofficial language – or dialect? or slang? – of Singapore, born out of the contact between the several cultures that make up the city state. It’s a living example of how languages can change and develop. It is also an expression of the Singaporean character and culture, a national treasure – or a detriment and danger to the country, depending on whom you ask.

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160919-the-language-the-government-tried-to-suppress
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Offline Rohzek

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Re: BBC - The language the government tried to suppress
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2016, 06:15:50 PM »
This is pretty neat. I say let them have Singlish. But more or less, it sounds like a different language. If they are changing sentence structure, I am willing to say that it is no longer English. Maybe something more akin to the shift from Old English to Middle English.
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: BBC - The language the government tried to suppress
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2016, 06:31:10 PM »
If Singlish has developed into a creole (as opposed to a pidgin, which is not fully functional and typically doesn't have native speakers), I don't see why not calling it an autonomous language. It's funny that Singaporeans are apparently so reluctant with calling it a language while, say, Haitians, Louisiana Creoles and Cape Verdeans are very proud of their heritage. Probably because of the prestige of English-speaking culture in Singapore.
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Offline Diego

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Re: BBC - The language the government tried to suppress
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2016, 09:24:40 AM »
What an absolutely FASCINATING language! I would like to learn it.

Offline Iconodule

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Re: BBC - The language the government tried to suppress
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2016, 09:32:13 AM »
In Malaysia they have "Manglish" which is very close. Even when people are trying to speak straight English the "lah" will slip in when they are emphatic or frustrated about something.
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Offline Alpha60

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Re: BBC - The language the government tried to suppress
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2017, 11:48:17 AM »
Is the syntax actually different or is it just English with loanwords and loan phrases from Chinese, Malaysian and other regional languages?

The vernacular of Manglish is interesting.  I saw an ad for a line of women's shampoo/hair/shower gel products with the tagline "Pure Your Soul," using pure as a verb, rather than the correct purify.

I have warched clips of the Indian parliament where their MPs appear to slkde effortlesslt between English, and what I would guess are Hindu, Irdu, Punjab and other regional languages (Malayalam hopefully).

The only chances to the English language I am opposed to are the increased glottal stops in some of the "less posh" accents from the Southeast of England; these threaten to make the speech of urban Britons increasingly unintelligible to Americans and Commonwealth citizens.  I love how regional accents like Geordie get more repect in the UK these days, but there is a balance between having these accents and preventing the fragmentation of English into mutually incomprehensible dialects (which I believe contributed to the decline of Aramaic as a lingua franca; why not just switch to the common Arabic of the invading Ummayids when your own language has splintered into dozens of vastly distinct regional dialects?)
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: BBC - The language the government tried to suppress
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2017, 12:00:45 PM »
Is the syntax actually different or is it just English with loanwords and loan phrases from Chinese, Malaysian and other regional languages?

I have a few teenage cousins who frequently converse on facebook in Manglish. From what I can tell, the syntax can vary widely. Words from Malay, Hokkien, Mandarin, and to a lesser extent Tamil figure in. Sometimes it's pretty much English with some words inserted- yesterday I saw "I'm going canteen, anyone want me tapao something?" Here the Mandarin phrase "dabao" for takeout is inserted. Sometimes all the words are English but the syntax is Chinese, e.g. "You want not want?" (Do you want it or not?). Some sentences appear to be mostly in English but are configured and used in such a way as to be incomprehensible as English. And then sometimes they just speak Chinese with occasional English words thrown in.

Having conversed with these people in person, though, they are generally quite capable of carrying a conversation in standard English.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 12:01:27 PM by Iconodule »
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But it had not been in Tess's power - nor is it in anybody's power - to feel the whole truth of golden opinions while it is possible to profit by them. She - and how many more - might have ironically said to God with Saint Augustine, "Thou hast counselled a better course than thou hast permitted."
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: BBC - The language the government tried to suppress
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2017, 12:09:25 PM »
What an absolutely FASCINATING language! I would like to learn it.

Having listened to Singaporean "Mandarin" as well, the same sort of phenomenon is at work in that case. It's very distinct from Taiwanese and mainland dialects of Mandarin, it's distinctly Singaporean.
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Offline WPM

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Re: BBC - The language the government tried to suppress
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2017, 12:23:05 PM »
If you understand phonetics and vowel pronunciation.