Investigating the relationship between language and ethnic identity construction amongst youth in the Singaporean-Tamil speech community
Sathrin Kaur Saggi Karamjit Singh
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Singapore’s bilingual education policy has been shaped largely by the government’s belief that the mother tongue languages (mainly Mandarin, Malay and Tamil) are essential ‘cultural ballast’ to give Singaporean youth a firm grounding in Asian values at a time of increasing globalisation. However, given the noticeable language shift from Tamil to English within the Singaporean Tamil community (as indicated by recent census data), there is an increasing need to investigate how language and identity is now being constructed within the Tamil community. This research examined the connection between language and identity within the Singaporean-Tamil youth speech community. This project focussed on how current usage and proficiency of Tamil influences the identities of Singaporean Tamil youth as Tamils. This research also explored additional issues linked to being a ‘Tamil’, such as other competing identities and the relationship of these identities to language choice within the Singaporean Tamil speech community. This research indicates that although Tamil youth declare that the maintenance of the Tamil language is an important part of Tamil identity, the actual results of investigation indicate a rather more complex reality.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University