Singlish : a handicap or an asset?
Kua, Charmian Pei Lin
Date of Issue2019
School of Humanities
Singlish, the nativized variety of English, has suffered a maelstrom of attacks by its detractors, especially the Singapore government. Due to the firm belief that Singlish is an obstacle to economic growth, the government creates a narrative that equates Singlish to a linguistic “handicap” (Lee, 1999). Nevertheless, this “handicap” continues to manifest in a variety of ways, such as in advertisements, merchandise and even governmental campaigns. The government’s deep-seated resentment against Singlish then seems to contradict the evidence that reveal Singlish to be a potential marketing tool. If Singlish has the ability to sell, is it still a “handicap” or an “asset”? This paper investigates this potentiality in two ways: (i) Singlish as a language medium and (ii) Singlish as a commodity. Using a two-pronged methodology, empirical observations were made using data gleaned from the Internet, and a questionnaire was utilised to investigate if there is consumer acceptance of the variety. Results have shown that Singlish becomes a powerful language medium when the domains it occur in are appropriate. Singlish as a commodity also sells, as Singaporeans are willing to pay more for Singlish merchandise to non-Singlish ones. These results are contrary to the belief that Singlish is a “handicap”.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University