Introduction—English: from a Global Language to a Glocal Language

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“What will happen to the language [English], as it manifests its worldwide presence in the form of new varieties? …Speakers and writers struggle to find a way of communicating which they feel authentically expresses their identity.” (Crystal, 2002:11)

As the first part of Crystal’s quote suggests, English has become increasingly important in this era of global village. In addition to its value as a lingua-franca when it comes to business trades, legal matters and diplomacy, keen development of the Internet and the World Wide Web has further encouraged and privileged its status worldwide. Owing to the striking impact of globalization of English, Singapore, which is well known of its multicultural and hence multilingual characteristics, has chosen English as her second language. The choice helps avoid ethnic conflicts (c.f. Crystal, 2002) and strive for international intelligibility (c.f. Ooi, 2001). Nevertheless, as the later part of the quote shows, English doesn’t appear as a single variety; instead, a range of varieties of English have recently emerged all over the world. As such, English doesn’t merely function as a global language, but also a “glocal” language, which implies that it is “both global and yet rooted in the local contexts of its users.” (Pakir, 2001:7) In Singapore, this colloquial local sub-variety of English is known as “Singlish”. In this paper, namely “The use of Standard English and Singlish in Singapore”, we aim to investigate closely into local Singaporeans’ practice in switching between the two varieties of English, which are the standard English (acrolect) and the colloquial English (basilect) respectively, with a brief yet comprehensive approach. The paper is divided into four parts. We have included the background information of Singapore in the first part, since realizing the geological, historical and cultural situation in Singapore effectively helps explain the choice of English as a second language and the emergence of Singlish...
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