To Use or Not to Use Singlish “Aiyah! so Headache!”

Powerful Essays
Victoria University of Wellington
School of Linguistics and Applied Languages Studies

WRIT 101 – Writing English

Assignment 2 – Persuasion

Due Date: 20 September 2004

Name of Student: Chor Teck Daryl Toy

To Use or Not To Use Singlish
“Aiyah! So Headache!”

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In recent years, there has been much concern on how Singaporeans use English. While some consider Singapore Colloquial English or Singlish as an undeniable part of being a Singaporean, others including the Government, deem it inferior, even condemn it, and support the use of Singapore Standard English almost relentlessly (Tan 2002). I shall attempt to address the following question, “Should Singlish be accepted and used or be abandoned?” I believe we need to use both Singlish and Standard English in order to be effective life-long communicators. We shall look into this argument in the context of education, the sociolinguistic understanding of diglossia and code-switching, and the role of teachers in guiding students in the language acquisition process.

Firstly, let us look at the development of English that eventually led to this language controversy in Singapore. English is one of the four official languages recognised in Singapore. It is the language medium used in education, in administration, and in the workforce, and is often used at home nowadays, along with the other ‘mother tongues’. Some, especially the younger families, have adopted English as their first language. Out of this multi-lingual background comes Singlish, which blends English with the other local languages, accents, dialects and slang. Singlish is used in informal occasions, especially among children, adolescents, and the less-educated. If we were to spend some time mingling with Singaporeans and listening to the way we converse with each other, we may catch colloquial phrases like,
“Why you so like dat?”
“Eeee! You so kiasu one!”
“Dun play-play with me!”
“Do your work lah!”
Such familiar terms



References: Ferguson, Charles A. 1959. Diglossia. In Dell Hymes (ed.) 1964. Language in Culture and Society. Expat Singapore Pte. Ltd. Language – Singlish http://www.expatsingapore.com/general/language.htm (13 March 2001) Gupta, Anthea Fraser. Language Varieties – Singapore Colloquial English (Singlish) http://www.une.edu.au/langnet/singlish.htm (8 April 2004)

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