Limited pidgin-type patois? policy, language, technology, identity and the experience of canto-pop in Singapore
Liew, Kai Khiun
Date of Issue2003
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
This article explores the interactions and tensions arising from a vibrant Canto-pop industry exported from Hong Kong to an interventionist nation-state of Singapore bent on discouraging the use of dialects by its ethnic Chinese population. Aside from highlighting the roles of technological and commercial factors behind the regional music networks, it seeks further to position this contemporary relationship within the larger historical and cultural context. The cultural politics involved here is not just an isolated phenomenon between two different cities. More importantly, the language policies of the Singapore government represent a haunting replication of the perennial attempts by central authorities in China to impose a more standardised linguistic and cultural identity on its dialect speaking peripheries. This identity is based on not just the court language of Mandarin, but notions of ‘Chineseness’. This article goes on to question the extent to which Canto-pop could help foster a more hybridised identity transcending both the current dictates of the modern Singaporean state and the imagined cultural boundaries of a more historically entrenched Sino-centric realm.
© 2004 Institution of Engineering and Technology. This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by IEE Proceedings Circuits Devices and Systems, Institution of Engineering and Technology. 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/10.1049/ip-cds:20040226.