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Singapore's English standard. The World. And much more!

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Postby Quasimodo » Mon, 11 May 2009 4:17 pm

LoriW wrote:
See I'm not 100% sure that I'm comfortable with that ......... in today's global society languages are so important. Growing up in the UK where the standard of foreign language teaching is appalling and seeing far too many Brits abroad who genuinely do believe that speaking in english loudly will get them understood, I think that learning any language is a bonus.


And I can see why. In terms of dialects i don't, however.

Dialects are remnants of a bygone day and they actually don't add value to those living outside of the 'motherland' or 'fatherland' . . . not a popular opinion, to be sure.
Mainland China is doing its absolute best to stamp out dialects and make everyone streamlined Mandarin . . . not a bad idea when trying to build a cohesive society in their eyes.
Take that one step further, in the truest sense, and look at places like Singapore or Malaysia. Dialects are not maintained simply because there is no structure supporting it and each ensuing generation loses it more and more until it becomes a farce and you end up looking like the freaks in Lousiana with their 'French'.

I'm not originally an Anglo and do lament the sweeping tide of English in everything from the media to movies to the internet etc . .. but it is a tide one should embrace, not fight out of some sense of pride.

If there is the opportunity then by all means raise your child bilingually or multi-lingually . . . but choose those languages wisely and ensure that it is quality over quantity
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Postby Plavt » Mon, 11 May 2009 4:51 pm

LoriW wrote: Growing up in the UK where the standard of foreign language teaching is appalling and seeing far too many Brits abroad who genuinely do believe that speaking in english loudly will get them understood, I think that learning any language is a bonus.


I agree wholeheartedly and that is a point I have so often tried to hammer to the thick heads of so many of my contemporaries. Perhaps as a by-product of the prevailing attitude you mention it is no wonder my own attempts at learning a foreign language have too often been met with scorn, disdain or some kind of amusement. :(

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Postby LoriW » Mon, 11 May 2009 5:24 pm

Dialects are remnants of a bygone day and they actually don't add value to those living outside of the 'motherland' or 'fatherland' . . . not a popular opinion, to be sure.


See I'd say that dialects are a part of our heritage, no, they're not of any great value but they serve as a reminder of who we are and where we come from in this ever decreasing world.

I currently live in Dorset and my partner originates from there. Writers such as William Barnes and Thomas Hardy have preserved the Dorset dialect for posterity and in the little market town where we live you still hear it spoken! Or even look at Robert Burns and his Scottish dialect poetry.

Catalan in northern Spain is considered a separate language, but surely that's dialect.

Then we also have Breton and Cornish - dying "languages", but still preserved in Brittany and Cornwall with an ever increasing realisation that they will disappear if not held onto.

Fair enough, we live in a world where we are all trying to communicate with a global universal language but the truth is, the world does consist of different countries and cultures.

Singapore is a true blend of cultures - which is where the dreadful "Singlish" comes from. Last year when we arrived at Changi Airport for our holiday, we were in the lift going down to the car park and I knew immediately I was in Singapore! An Indian man and a Chinese woman were conversing in Mandarin!

I don't think you would see that anywhere else in the world! Or a couple of years ago when we were on holiday with my Father, we walked along the Esplanade after dinner and stopped to buy an ice-cream from an indian ice cream seller. My father asked for the ice creams in Tamil and the seller replied in Cantonese!

My mother being a terrible snob and stickler for correctness always insisted that if we spoke in a particular language we only used that language. So in general as a family, we spoke Cantonese at home and nothing else and English outside, oh and I was told off in mandarin (which is probably why I grew up with such an aversion to learning it!! :wink: )

When I "gas" with my closest cousin - we were childhood playmates, I must admit we chatter in a mixture of Cantonese and English non- stop really, much to our beloveds' disgust on a trip to Thailand last year!

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Postby Quasimodo » Mon, 11 May 2009 8:00 pm

LoriW wrote:
Dialects are remnants of a bygone day and they actually don't add value to those living outside of the 'motherland' or 'fatherland' . . . not a popular opinion, to be sure.


See I'd say that dialects are a part of our heritage, no, they're not of any great value but they serve as a reminder of who we are and where we come from in this ever decreasing world.

I currently live in Dorset and my partner originates from there. Writers such as William Barnes and Thomas Hardy have preserved the Dorset dialect for posterity and in the little market town where we live you still hear it spoken! Or even look at Robert Burns and his Scottish dialect poetry.


No doubt you have valid points, but you seem to be moving the goalposts . . . The Dorset dialect is surely quaint, I guess, and living amongst the thatched roofs hearing the lilt is a good thing.

We are, however, talking about Singapore and the various dialects.

Juxtapose the Dorset lilt to, say, Melbourne and see the result. We are talking about the economic imperative and dialects simply don't fit into the scheme of this particular picture.

Mandarin and English, where possible, is what is required. I am tri-lingual but only see the need to have our children learn English (from my side) but they will be exceptional in this language because it is one of the two they specialise in.

Romanticise dialects if you wish, and I would support you in that, but don't have them get in the way of your child's future. (Not that you would, of course, I am intimating no such thing)
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Postby rattlesnake » Mon, 11 May 2009 9:30 pm

To be honest, all this talk about learning multiple languages is rubbish. Everyone should just learn english - it ain't hard, I even leant it as a toddler so if a toddler can learn it, then surely everyone else can too.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Mon, 11 May 2009 10:17 pm

rattlesnake wrote:To be honest, all this talk about learning multiple languages is rubbish. Everyone should just learn english - it ain't hard, I even leant it as a toddler so if a toddler can learn it, then surely everyone else can too.


Absolutely! And as Ma Ferguson, governor of Texas, 1925/26 and 1933/34 proclaimed when Spanish was being taught in Texas schools, "If the King's English was good enough for Jesus it's good enough for Texas school children!"

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Re: Singapore's English standard. The World. And much more!

Postby TennoHekka » Wed, 20 May 2009 1:13 am

Skpp wrote:A very good day to one and all.

I have been reading this forum for quite a while. And yes, I have noticed the comments about the English standard of some Singaporeans.

I have a few things to say about that.

First and foremost, do not be so quick to pass judgement. You are judging an entire nation based on a few uneducated people which you encounter in your daily life.

While it is true that some Singaporeans do speak broken English, these people are often the lowly educated. They prefer speaking in Chinese or Malay. The educated Singaporean speaks English well. The next time you encounter someone speaking broken English, ask them if he or she has ever graduated from Primary or Secondary school. There is your answer there as to why they speak broken English.

We have to interact with many of these lowly educated people on a daily basis because they are often the ones casheiring at the local supermarket or serving us food at the coffeeshop. I think this is why some foreigners think that Singaporeans speak broken English.

Besides, there are a large number of foreigners now in Singapore. 30-40% of the population in Singapore are now foriegners. Many of them are from China and other non English speaking countries. Therefore, they do not speak English well. Do not mistake them for Singaporeans.

Take any Singaporean educated up to Cambridge O levels and you will find that they speak English well. In Singapore, we sit for the very same O and A level papers as the students in the UK. Our papers are sent to Cambridge to be marked and Cambridge examiners are flown in to assess us orally.

Personally, many of my ex classmates and myself have scored an A for English at the Cambridge O levels. Just for comparison, only 15% of students in the UK manage an A for English at their O levels exams.

As Singaporeans, we have nothing to be ashamed of. Our English standard is as comparable, and on ocassions, even better than many students from the UK or America (I am talking about the educated Singaporeans here).

How else can you describe the fact that many Singaporean students like myself have sat for the exact same English exam and scored better than 85% of the students in the UK?

I was educated in a British university. The Singaporean's accent is rather neutral and it can be easily understood. There are many accents around the world which are rather thick. It is very hard to understand them.

The Scottish accent is one. The Welsh accent is another. Just do a search on youtube for "scottish accent" and you will get what I am saying. Some Canadians also have a french accent to their English which makes it very hard to understand.

They are impossible for me and my American friends to understand.

As Singaporeans, we have a lot to be proud of. Our GDP and INCOME per capita is top 5 in the world. Higher than the US and the UK. Singapore is a clean and safe city to live in. We rank higher than many cities in the UK and US for standard of living and quality of life. Our government has made a very good decision in equipping us with English and Chinese skills.

Singapore IS the most English speaking Country in Asia. Our English ability is on par with the UK and US and Canada (the educated Singaporeans). We speak better English than most Europeans. In fact, in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Finland, etc, their road signs are not even in English and their citizens do not even speak English as a first language, which is something we do in Singapore!


Your post really pisses me off as a Singaporean! WHY the %&% are you apologizing for our English standards when its NOT our native langauge, it was imposed upon us by a racist colonial occupier, and when we're a zillion light years away from exeter, windsor or wherever william pitt was from??? I think we have done REALLY well with it under the circumstances since independance, and in any event, you had better start improving your Chinese and Hindi since you know who's rising over the horizon, and STOP grovelling and insulting your fellow Singaporeans (what "less educated" etc etc"!!). Man! This just takes the cake! Like what your British trainers would say "Grow a pair!" :mad:

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Postby Quasimodo » Wed, 20 May 2009 11:07 am


tennohekka wrote:

Your post really pisses me off as a Singaporean! WHY the %&% are you apologizing for our English standards when its NOT our native langauge, it was imposed upon us by a racist colonial occupier, and when we're a zillion light years away from exeter, windsor or wherever william pitt was from??? I think we have done REALLY well with it under the circumstances since independance, and in any event, you had better start improving your Chinese and Hindi since you know who's rising over the horizon, and STOP grovelling and insulting your fellow Singaporeans (what "less educated" etc etc"!!). Man! This just takes the cake! Like what your British trainers would say "Grow a pair!


Interesting, you go on about colonialist chains yet you use a Japanese nic. It seems you may have forgotten that Japan was also an imperialist/colonial power.

Now, to your rant.

Yes, I agree, Singapore has done very well ubder the skirt f the colonal oppressor, so well in fact that it is a leading light in the region and the world. Unless you would have preferred being swallowed up by Malaysia or ending up like Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia . . .

If you believe that Indian (oh, which language would you learn? Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu.....) and China will be the leading lights of civilisation then you'd better change your work ethic as well.

I think that Singaporeans have done very well in so many areas but don't think you can stand alone or rely on China and India to keep Singapore prosperous.
In employment terms alone, which region has more offices here? The 'West' or the 'East'?

Having lived in a few counties in Asia I fully understand why Singapore is so attractive to 'western' investment . . .
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Postby art works » Wed, 20 May 2009 5:58 pm

The one thing that people are difficulties in English grammar, if you can write it, it doesn't mean you can say it.

Grammar oh grammar why you so difficult to learn?...
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Postby Quasimodo » Wed, 20 May 2009 9:10 pm

art works wrote:The one thing that people are difficulties in English grammar, if you can write it, it doesn't mean you can say it.

Grammar oh grammar why you so difficult to learn?...


Very well put. English grammar is difficult because it is illogical and has more exceptions to it than the rule.
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Postby TennoHekka » Wed, 20 May 2009 10:34 pm

Quasimodo wrote:
tennohekka wrote:

Your post really pisses me off as a Singaporean! WHY the %&% are you apologizing for our English standards when its NOT our native langauge, it was imposed upon us by a racist colonial occupier, and when we're a zillion light years away from exeter, windsor or wherever william pitt was from??? I think we have done REALLY well with it under the circumstances since independance, and in any event, you had better start improving your Chinese and Hindi since you know who's rising over the horizon, and STOP grovelling and insulting your fellow Singaporeans (what "less educated" etc etc"!!). Man! This just takes the cake! Like what your British trainers would say "Grow a pair!


Interesting, you go on about colonialist chains yet you use a Japanese nic. It seems you may have forgotten that Japan was also an imperialist/colonial power.

Now, to your rant.

Yes, I agree, Singapore has done very well ubder the skirt f the colonal oppressor, so well in fact that it is a leading light in the region and the world. Unless you would have preferred being swallowed up by Malaysia or ending up like Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia . . .

If you believe that Indian (oh, which language would you learn? Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu.....) and China will be the leading lights of civilisation then you'd better change your work ethic as well.

I think that Singaporeans have done very well in so many areas but don't think you can stand alone or rely on China and India to keep Singapore prosperous.
In employment terms alone, which region has more offices here? The 'West' or the 'East'?

Having lived in a few counties in Asia I fully understand why Singapore is so attractive to 'western' investment . . .


Well, I lived and worked in quite a few places in Asia, Europe and of course the US, so I'm pretty certain my experience is richer than yours (besides getting all that from your asinine reply anyway!).
As for your problem with Japanese people or their revered emperor, your problem, not mine! Just hope you find enough non-Japanese electronics to survive on in your shack, unless of course, you're more "forgiving" when it comes to your own personal usuage!
As for the all the diatribes against the Indians and Chinese, whatever dude! Must suck for you to look in the mirror everyday, all that self-loathing and depreciation. I suggest a good plastic surgeon in LA, IF you can afford it anyway.
Now back to your lil well! :cool:

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Postby TennoHekka » Wed, 20 May 2009 10:36 pm

Quasimodo wrote:
art works wrote:The one thing that people are difficulties in English grammar, if you can write it, it doesn't mean you can say it.

Grammar oh grammar why you so difficult to learn?...


Very well put. English grammar is difficult because it is illogical and has more exceptions to it than the rule.


English is THE easiest western langauge to learn, second comes spanish. Too bad you don't get it.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 20 May 2009 11:32 pm

TennoHekka wrote:
Quasimodo wrote:
tennohekka wrote:

Your post really pisses me off as a Singaporean! WHY the %&% are you apologizing for our English standards when its NOT our native langauge, it was imposed upon us by a racist colonial occupier, and when we're a zillion light years away from exeter, windsor or wherever william pitt was from??? I think we have done REALLY well with it under the circumstances since independance, and in any event, you had better start improving your Chinese and Hindi since you know who's rising over the horizon, and STOP grovelling and insulting your fellow Singaporeans (what "less educated" etc etc"!!). Man! This just takes the cake! Like what your British trainers would say "Grow a pair!


Interesting, you go on about colonialist chains yet you use a Japanese nic. It seems you may have forgotten that Japan was also an imperialist/colonial power.

Now, to your rant.

Yes, I agree, Singapore has done very well ubder the skirt f the colonal oppressor, so well in fact that it is a leading light in the region and the world. Unless you would have preferred being swallowed up by Malaysia or ending up like Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia . . .

If you believe that Indian (oh, which language would you learn? Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu.....) and China will be the leading lights of civilisation then you'd better change your work ethic as well.

I think that Singaporeans have done very well in so many areas but don't think you can stand alone or rely on China and India to keep Singapore prosperous.
In employment terms alone, which region has more offices here? The 'West' or the 'East'?

Having lived in a few counties in Asia I fully understand why Singapore is so attractive to 'western' investment . . .


Well, I lived and worked in quite a few places in Asia, Europe and of course the US, so I'm pretty certain my experience is richer than yours (besides getting all that from your asinine reply anyway!).
As for your problem with Japanese people or their revered emperor, your problem, not mine! Just hope you find enough non-Japanese electronics to survive on in your shack, unless of course, you're more "forgiving" when it comes to your own personal usuage!
As for the all the diatribes against the Indians and Chinese, whatever dude! Must suck for you to look in the mirror everyday, all that self-loathing and depreciation. I suggest a good plastic surgeon in LA, IF you can afford it anyway.
Now back to your lil well! :cool:


Obviously, you haven't done your homework TennoHekka! I don't think I'd put a wager on your claim of richer experience. You ought to research those who you would do verbal sparring with so you don't end up with this:

Image and end up with this Image

of course this is all Image anyway.

:cool:

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Postby TennoHekka » Thu, 21 May 2009 1:07 am

sundaymorningstaple wrote:
TennoHekka wrote:
Quasimodo wrote:
tennohekka wrote:

Your post really pisses me off as a Singaporean! WHY the %&% are you apologizing for our English standards when its NOT our native langauge, it was imposed upon us by a racist colonial occupier, and when we're a zillion light years away from exeter, windsor or wherever william pitt was from??? I think we have done REALLY well with it under the circumstances since independance, and in any event, you had better start improving your Chinese and Hindi since you know who's rising over the horizon, and STOP grovelling and insulting your fellow Singaporeans (what "less educated" etc etc"!!). Man! This just takes the cake! Like what your British trainers would say "Grow a pair!


Interesting, you go on about colonialist chains yet you use a Japanese nic. It seems you may have forgotten that Japan was also an imperialist/colonial power.

Now, to your rant.

Yes, I agree, Singapore has done very well ubder the skirt f the colonal oppressor, so well in fact that it is a leading light in the region and the world. Unless you would have preferred being swallowed up by Malaysia or ending up like Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia . . .

If you believe that Indian (oh, which language would you learn? Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu.....) and China will be the leading lights of civilisation then you'd better change your work ethic as well.

I think that Singaporeans have done very well in so many areas but don't think you can stand alone or rely on China and India to keep Singapore prosperous.
In employment terms alone, which region has more offices here? The 'West' or the 'East'?

Having lived in a few counties in Asia I fully understand why Singapore is so attractive to 'western' investment . . .


Well, I lived and worked in quite a few places in Asia, Europe and of course the US, so I'm pretty certain my experience is richer than yours (besides getting all that from your asinine reply anyway!).
As for your problem with Japanese people or their revered emperor, your problem, not mine! Just hope you find enough non-Japanese electronics to survive on in your shack, unless of course, you're more "forgiving" when it comes to your own personal usuage!
As for the all the diatribes against the Indians and Chinese, whatever dude! Must suck for you to look in the mirror everyday, all that self-loathing and depreciation. I suggest a good plastic surgeon in LA, IF you can afford it anyway.
Now back to your lil well! :cool:


Obviously, you haven't done your homework TennoHekka! I don't think I'd put a wager on your claim of richer experience. You ought to research those who you would do verbal sparring with so you don't end up with this:

Image and end up with this Image

of course this is all Image anyway.

:cool:


Whatever dude...It always seems that whenever a local wants to stand up for his fellow islanders, there're always those who're ever so quick to denigrate him, be they fellow locals or foreigners. This is a trait that's sadly evident here from the days of my granddad, some things never change, at least for now :?

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Postby Plavt » Thu, 21 May 2009 2:06 am

TennoHekka wrote:Whatever dude...It always seems that whenever a local wants to stand up for his fellow islanders, there're always those who're ever so quick to denigrate him, be they fellow locals or foreigners. This is a trait that's sadly evident here from the days of my granddad, some things never change, at least for now :?


I didn't want to get into this but again I think you have been too hasty to judge. Quasimodo doesn't have a problem with Japanese people quite possibly he's rather fond of them given the amount of times he has visited Japan. In addition it is clear you have not understood his point about Singapore relying on China and India to keep the country prosperous.* This is what sundaymorningstaple meant about sparring.

I am not so sure Spanish is easier to learn than English, having studied it myself (although sometime ago). I think that may be just your assumption possibly based on listening to present day colloquial usage. Some of the more formal Spanish goes un-recognized, forgotten or simply not used by today's youth.

* I think the issue here is one that is being overlooked by a number of developed nations; you cannot rely on China and India being sources of cheap labour indefinitely. Taiwan used to be a source of cheap worthless goods. However, the availability of jobs meant an improved income for many and subsequently access to better education resulting in a skilled work-force.
Last edited by Plavt on Thu, 21 May 2009 7:04 am, edited 2 times in total.


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