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Title: Multilingualism among the elderly Chinese in Singapore : an oral account
Authors: Nah, Vanessa Ellen Mei Yin
Cavallaro, Francesco
Panović, Ivan
Ng, Bee Chin
Keywords: Humanities::Language
Issue Date: 2021
Source: Nah, V. E. M. Y., Cavallaro, F., Panović, I. & Ng, B. C. (2021). Multilingualism among the elderly Chinese in Singapore : an oral account. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2021(270), 153-179.
Journal: International Journal of the Sociology of Language
Abstract: This study aims to qualitatively document the histories of Singapore's Chinese multilingual elderly. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven Chinese Singaporeans aged 75 years and above on how and why they acquired the languages they speak and their attitudes towards these linguistic varieties, of which many are declining in usage. Five participants were multilingual and spoke three or more languages fluently; two spoke only two languages and were included for a balanced and holistic perspective. Common themes from the interviews were identified and discussed. One key finding was that communicative necessity and practicality naturally fuelled language learning. Outside of the home, multilingual individuals acquired varieties from conversing with friends, relatives and customers, or as an educational requirement. Language was tied to ethnic belonging, but, generally, pride to speak a linguistic variety was linked to its functional value, not its associated ethnic identity. Unhappiness was expressed at the waning of the Chinese vernaculars and Baba Malay in Singapore today. Such language loss was seen as a sombre, but unavoidable consequence of Singapore's globalisation and modernisation.
ISSN: 0165-2516
DOI: 10.1515/ijsl-2020-2119
Rights: © 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH. All rights reserved. This paper was published in International Journal of the Sociology of Language and is made available with permission of Walter de Gruyter GmbH.
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Journal Articles

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