Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0272-2690
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9889
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Singlish, Singapore’s brand of colloquial English, is accepted by some as an essential marker ofSingaporean identity but deplored by others as a variety of English that puts Singapore and Singaporeans at adisadvantage because of its lack of international intelligibility. For this reason, it has been argued thatSingaporeans cannot afford to maintain Singlish as a viable linguistic resource. A campaign known as the“Speak Good English Movement” was established in 2000 to counter the ill effects of Singlishthrough the promotion of Standard English. This paper addresses the Singlish-Standard (Singaporean) Englishdebate in terms of discourse resources and the politics of language planning in Singapore. It may be true thatSinglish is not the most internationally intelligible of Englishes, but what is more interesting is the considerabledisparity between the official concern over international intelligibility and the reality of life in Singapore,especially for the Singlish speaker. Such a disparity suggests differing notions of what constitutes an importantlinguistic resource for the nation as a whole and for specific speech communities. On another level, it providesinsights into the politics of language management in Singapore. The Singlish-Standard English debate alsoprovides clear evidence of struggles over the determination of the choice of a preferred variety of English andthe control over linguistic resources. Through an examination of media reports, official statements, and lettersto local newspapers, the author considers the implications of this debate for Singaporeans (especially Singlishspeakers) and their participation within the society. In the process, the author also examines the powerrelations that are intertwined in this debate for determining the ideal Singaporean society.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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