Code-switching in Singapore English (TU16)

English is spoken more extensively across the planet than any language in human history. Estimates suggest that up to two billion people use some English today. The language has developed different forms on every continent, and is used by increasingly diverse groups of users.

This unit looks at a newly emerging dialect of English: Singapore English. Singapore English, sometimes called ‘Singlish’, is a new dialect of English spoken in Singapore. Singaporeans have traditionally been native speakers of Chinese, Tamil, and Malay languages, but increasingly the country is shifting towards native English use. This is partly due to an active government policy of promoting English in schools. Like speakers of vernacular dialects around the world, Singaporeans often have a range of speaking styles that they can use, from more standard to more vernacular. The vernacular variety is called Colloquial Singapore English. Switching between two dialects (or two languages) is sometimes called “code-switching”. The accompanying transcript and discussion points help students understand the grammar of the dialect as well as motivations for code-switching.

Discussion points

Linguistics Research Digest link
‘Researches’, ‘informations’ and ‘knowledges’ in World Englishes