Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/148092
Title: ENGLISH IN SINGAPORE : A STUDY OF ITS STATUS AND SOLIDARITY AND THE ATTITUDES TO ITS USE
Authors: CATHERINE LIM
Issue Date: 1986
Citation: CATHERINE LIM (1986). ENGLISH IN SINGAPORE : A STUDY OF ITS STATUS AND SOLIDARITY AND THE ATTITUDES TO ITS USE. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This study examines a particular attitudinal tendency of Singaporean speakers of English towards their own speech - a tendency which this writer calls linguistic insecurity, manifested in a general repudiation of the value and functions of Singapore English, feelings of embarrassment and anxiety about it and a strong dependence on native speakers to set standards. The tendency is seen as the result of the conflict of two opposing factors: on the one hand, awareness of the high status of standard British English (the variety encoded in traditional grammar textbooks) in terms of socioeconomic power, and on the other, awareness of the low status of Singapore English, which even in its highest manifestations, rarely approaches standard British English, but which, in its role of fulfilling the sociopsychological need for national, ethnic group, social group and interpersonal solidarity, cannot be replaced by standard British English. Each of these two opposing factors is in turn examined in the larger context of the history of the development of the English language in Singapore - the growth in the status of English in the political and socioeconomic development of Singapore from the time of its founding to the present day, and the growth of the solidarity functions of English when it became indigenised as a result of widespread English medium education. The study emphasizes the strength of the status of the English language in Singapore, due largely to a history of uninterrupted government support, and resulting in the unique position of the language today in a Third World country; it also emphasizes the extensiveness of the process of indigenisation of the language in response to its new roles and functions in a multilingual, multi-ethnic and multicultural setting. Tacit official support of standard British English over Singapore English, the indigenised variety, as shown in the vast institutional and sociostructural supports for the former, has reinforced the linguistic insecurity which has as one of its behavioural manifestations, linguistic ambivalence or the simultaneous rejection and expression of pride in one's speech. The study proposes that the problem of English language standards in Singapore, a problem which has been taken up at the highest official levels, be examined in a framework that is not only econo-technical but also sociolinguistic, so that these sociopsychological realities can be included for consideration. The descriptive part of the study has an empirical counterpart: a small-scale survey of the attitudes of 85 teachers of English in Singapore regarding the status of standard British English and the solidarity functions of Singapore English. The survey makes use of both direct and indirect methods of attitude elicitation, namely, the questionnaire, audiotaped samples of the speech of a range of Singaporean speakers which the subjects of the study listened to and evaluated, and a 'commitment' measure designed to tap at deeper levels of attitude. The findings of the survey generally confirm the study hypotheses regarding linguistic insecurity and the two variables of awareness of status and of solidarity, and related variables.
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/148092
Appears in Collections:Ph.D Theses (Open)

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