Elderspeak in Singapore : a case study.
Chee, Felicia Yi Tian.
Date of Issue2011
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Elderspeak is the code that is used when communicating with the elderly. It is usually employed by the interlocutors when communicating with the elderly due to their perception that the elderly needs to be subjected to a different code. Elderspeak is also termed “Secondary Baby Talk” as it shares many features of “Baby-Talk”. Some main characteristics are limited vocabulary, infantilizing and over-parenting speech and repetition. Research shows that its usage places the elderly in a negative feedback loop. This reinforces to the elderly that they are not able to care for themselves and causes negative stereotypes about ageing which may cause their self-esteem to be diminished. Elderspeak is hence seen as code that is insulting and demeaning instead of benefitting the elderly. This study aims to research and understand elderspeak in the Singapore context, a country that had recently seen an increase in its older population. This paper discusses the features of elderspeak found in a NTUC eldercare centre. The results show that, - there are two types of elderspeak- the right and the wrong variety. Care-givers should employ the right type of elderspeak to benefit the elderly. Physical and cognitive abilities as well as the gender of the elderly will also cause the elderly to receive a different amount of elderspeak. Some general trends, suggestions and recommendations are also made regarding the usage of elderspeak.
Final Year Project (FYP)