Wired wrote something that got me tinking a bit. I’ll quote in excerpts, the full article is here. I’m more interested in the Singlish portions.

How English Is Evolving Into a Language We May Not Even Understand

An estimated 300 million Chinese — roughly equivalent to the total US population — read and write English but don’t get enough quality spoken practice. The likely consequence of all this? In the future, more and more spoken English will sound increasingly like Chinese.

It’s the 1.3 billion people can’t be wrong thing. If more Chinese speak in their Chinglish, they would be the majority. We can’t say the majority of English language speakers are speaking it wrongly, can we?

In Singaporean English (known as Singlish), think is pronounced “tink,” and theories is “tee-oh-rees.”

Dude, it’s Singapore English, not Singaporean English. I never heard of tee-oh-rees in Singapore anyway. Do we say that? I don’t tink so!

One noted feature of Singlish is the use of words like ah, lah, or wah at the end of a sentence to indicate a question or get a listener to agree with you. They’re each pronounced with tone – the linguistic feature that gives spoken Mandarin its musical quality – adding a specific pitch to words to alter their meaning. (If you say “xin” with an even tone, it means “heart”; with a descending tone it means “honest.”) According to linguists, such words may introduce tone into other Asian-English hybrids.

I haven’t thought of the ah, lah, loh stuff this way leh. To me, it was added to sound more casual and to fit in. If everyone doesn’t add this, no one would use it. It’s just to fit in. But our government launched a campaign to go against it – clearly not fitting in well enough.

And it’s possible Chinglish will be more efficient than our version, doing away with word endings and the articles a, an, and the. After all, if you can figure out “Environmental sanitation needs your conserve,” maybe conservation isn’t so necessary.

I tink we’re in some sort of transition. If the Chinese can end up standardizing English by bastardizing the current standard of English, so be it. We would see a bunch of English purist crying but hey, we switched old English to middle English to our modern English. Yeah, it took ages but today we are experiencing an acceleration on technology advancements, globalization etc.. Maybe we forgotten that language developments can accelerate too.

Welcome to post-modern Asianglish.

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