Speculative fiction writer, translator, and editor


Speak Good English Movement

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A decade later: Singapore’s Speak Good English Movement

I approached my field research, then, with an exploratory perspective: Are the opinions as seen in the press representative of the opinions of the average Singaporean? How aware is the average Singaporean of the SGEM? What is the average Singaporean’s views towards the roles of English and Singlish in Singapore, and do these correspond with the government’s views on language? Is the debate about English and Singlish as fiery as it seems from the academic and media perspectives?

My interviews showed that the typical Singaporean (a term which is in itself very vague, and which I will discuss in my demographics section) is not as aware of the SGEM as previous research has assumed, but that, regardless, their opinion of the importance of Standard English in Singapore aligns closely to that of the government’s. The typical Singaporean also sees Singlish as important to Singaporean identity, in that it is a phe- nomenon unique to Singapore and therefore important for differentiating Singaporeans from other nations. I will then discuss these responses and locate Singlish in more detail in the Singaporean identity, as well as discuss current and potentially future shifts within the ideology of the SGEM as well as the government’s approach to English and Singlish.

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