Ideologies of ‘Singlish’ in the forum letters of The Straits Times from 1979 to 2017
Teo, Annabella Wen Ting
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Language ideologies have become an important topic of study in linguistics, where previous research has focused on the relationship between ideologies and politics, gender, social class and the power of ideologies itself. In Singapore, studies have been done on a broad scale ranging from ideologies on language learning, family planning, and language policy criticism and revision. This study aims to fill the research gap of language ideology studies of Singlish in the public sphere through the analysis of The Straits Times forum letters. 148 letters were analysed, applying a framework from Bokhorst-Heng’s (2005) work on the Singlish debate. The analysis indicated that five ideologies mentioned by Bokhorst-Heng were visible in the forum letter data in this study. These included ideologies related to ‘intelligibility’, ‘economic/practical functions’, ‘proper English’, ‘identity and unity’ and ‘dichotomy’. In addition, the results of the present study also suggested that three other ideologies were also evidenced in the letter data, which were labelled as ‘reputational damage’, ‘diglossia’ and ‘morality’. Of all the arguments, ‘Proper English’ was found to be the most frequently-made argument against Singlish, and the arguments of ‘intelligibility’, ‘economic/’practical functions’ and ‘proper English’ were frequently clustered together in making a case against Singlish, illustrating overt issues using the Singlish debate as a front for discourse. The five ideologies from Bokhorst-Heng were found to have decreased in saliency after 2009 while the other three ideologies increased, suggesting a shift in language ideologies surround Singlish possibly explained by changes in Singaporeans’ needs in a globalized world.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University