Singapore Colloquial English: Issues of prestige and identity
Ng, Bee Chin
Seilhamer, Mark Fifer
Date of Issue2014-09
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Singapore Colloquial English (SCE) or ‘Singlish’ is a variety very distinct from Singapore Standardised English (SSE), and its use is a polarising issue in Singaporean society. In stark contrast to the results of most language attitude studies in which non-standardised varieties are rated positively along solidarity dimensions, participants of matched-guise studies investigating Singaporean attitudes toward SCE have assigned lower solidarity ratings for SCE than for SSE. This is in stark contrast to anecdotal and public opinion that SCE is a language of solidarity and identity for most Singaporeans. By including participants from non-tertiary sectors and a wider range of stimulus guises as well as supplementing matched-guise results with interview data, this study seeks to reveal the covert prestige that SCE does, in fact, appear to enjoy in Singaporean society. While the matched-guise results of this study largely conform to previous findings, the interview data suggest that many participants were basing their ratings on perceptions of SCE use in the public domain rather than the private domain. The study has implications for the extent to which we can extrapolate results from matched-guise studies, a widely used instrument for the study of language attitudes in the last 50 years.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by World Englishes, John Wiley & Sons Ltd. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/weng.12096].