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Title: Standard Singapore English : evaluating Singapore's standard English variety
Authors: Nah, Vanessa Ellen Mei Yin
Keywords: Humanities::Linguistics::Sociolinguistics::Bilingualism::Singapore
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Nah, V. E. M. Y. (2021). Standard Singapore English : evaluating Singapore's standard English variety. Master's thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: What is Standard Singapore English (SSE)? This thesis unpacks SSE in two parts: one, SSE is a standard variety of English; and two, it is English used in Singapore. The aim is to break down the ideological “standardness” and “Singaporean-ness” of SSE to better understand what it is in the minds of its users. Following an extensive review of past studies on Standard English, seven features of Standard English were identified and reviewed in both the global context and in terms of how they have been discussed in past literature on SSE. These seven dimensions were examined in a 29-item questionnaire designed to handle three attitudinal components – Affect, Behaviour and Cognition. Twelve speech samples were used as stimuli, varying factors of speaker Age, Ethnicity and whether English was their first (L1) or second language (L2). A total of 305 participants responded. Findings for “standardness” suggest that how people think, feel and behave in response to the concept of Standard English is chiefly predicted by L1/L2 English of the speaker; L1 English speakers sound more “standard”, are looked upon more favourably, are believed to have more desirable speech, and are perceived more likely to be selected for higher paying and higher prestige jobs. This finding belies Singaporeans’ exonormative standards of English that conceive of the true native English speaker as traditional speakers of Inner Circle Englishes, contributing to a sense of linguistic inferiority among Singaporeans. Perceived “Singaporean-ness” was predicted by two perceptual factors. Firstly, speakers perceived to be ethnically Chinese, Malay and Indian sounded the most Singaporean, while those judged to be European/White sounded the least. Secondly, “standardness” evaluations positively affected perceived “Singaporean-ness”, supporting the existence of SSE as simultaneously standard and Singaporean; in fact, speakers were more likely to sound Singaporean if they sound standard. Future research can investigate the influence of ethnic identity on national identity in multiracial and multicultural Singapore and Singaporeans’ linguistic insecurity due to exonormative standards in order to better understand how SSE is not just a standard variety, but the standard variety of Singapore.
DOI: 10.32657/10356/154532
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Theses

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