English vs. Singlish

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The clearest demonstration I know of for the pronunciation differences between the two:

Of course, this is to ignore the differences in vocabulary, grammar, syntax, particles, and so forth.

Readings

"Xinhua English and Zhonglish" (2/4/09)

"Pinyin for Singlish" (3/7/16)

"New Singaporean and Hong Kong terms in the OED" (5/12/16)

"Singlish: alive and well" (5/14/16)

"Singlish under siege" (7/1/18)

"The ethnopolitics of National Language in China" (7/2/18)

[h.t. Leander Seah]



16 Comments

  1. David Marjanović said,

    July 28, 2018 @ 5:12 pm

    Singaporean Style

    "!!TURN ON CAPTIONS FOR THE LYRICS!!"

  2. Victor Mair said,

    July 28, 2018 @ 5:20 pm

    Click the little "CC" toward the bottom right of the video screen.

    Mentions Ang Mo 紅毛

    (derogatory, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, chiefly Hokkien) red-haired person; (by extension) Caucasian person; white person; ang moh

    From Wiktionary
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E7%B4%85%E6%AF%9B

    See:

    "Malaysian Multilingualism" (9/11/09)

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1734

    "Laowai: the old furriner" (4/9/14)

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=11626

  3. everydaydroid said,

    July 28, 2018 @ 6:45 pm

    Oh, this is so nostalgic. Especially the part when he sits Ah Beng-style and picks his nose.

    I used to watch this during uni days

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkNWHCMkwRI

    (I dont see why Ang Moh should be derogatory. All it means is Red Hair; the usage is a much more venial sin compared to Zwarte Piet in Netherland. But then I am Hokkien…)

  4. krogerfoot said,

    July 29, 2018 @ 8:41 am

    This is a lot like the "How German Sounds vs. Other Languages". The actors work hard to make Singaporean English sound brutish and deficient, although the lampooning seems affectionate enough. Some of those Singlish pronunciations, especially "favorite," sound exactly right to American ears.

  5. Victor Mair said,

    July 29, 2018 @ 11:23 am

    This one gets into grammar, particles, vocabulary, and other differences

    "The ultimate difference between: BRITISH ENGLISH VS SINGLISH"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKsaM_Gp3Y0

  6. Pflaumbaum said,

    July 29, 2018 @ 3:24 pm

    @krogerfoot

    They also push the English English accent in the other direction – there'd be less difference between the two if she didn't use artificially cut-glass pronunciations, for instance her final /t/ in words like "receipt". In normal RP it would be at least preglottalized and often entirely replaced by a glottal stop.

  7. NatShockley said,

    July 29, 2018 @ 9:38 pm

    @Pflaumbaum

    I don't think they are exaggerating much at all in the "English English" accent. What the woman is speaking is largely just normal "proper English" as it is spoken in Singapore. It does indeed differ from RP, but on the other hand, it is quite close to the Australian version of "proper English", which you will hear from any well-educated middle class Austrlaian. None of this is really in any way surprising.

  8. Levantine said,

    July 30, 2018 @ 4:41 am

    It's interesting that she sounded the L in "salmon"—that isn't done in any British accent I know.

  9. Pflaumbaum said,

    July 30, 2018 @ 6:41 am

    @NatShockley

    It's closer to RP than to any Australian accent IMO, but I'm not convinced educated Singaporeans use such stilted diction in ordinary speech. The comic value of the piece clearly relies on her giving kind of formal citation forms, while he… doesn't.

    One exception is her vocalised /l/, which are also common to most accents of England and somewhat stands out from the rest of her speech.

  10. Scott P. said,

    July 30, 2018 @ 9:38 am

    They also push the English English accent in the other direction – there'd be less difference between the two if she didn't use artificially cut-glass pronunciations, for instance her final /t/ in words like "receipt".

    In American English, "receipt" has a distinct /t/ at the end.

  11. Philip Taylor said,

    July 30, 2018 @ 2:59 pm

    I believe the same to be true of British English — I cannot imagine anyone with whom I speak on a regular basis dropping the final "t" of "receipt", with the possible exception of my Vietnamese/Chinese wife.

  12. Ellen K. said,

    July 30, 2018 @ 4:07 pm

    Pflaumbaum wasn't suggesting that English speakers leave off the t in receipt. Just that they use a pronunciation — and he gives 2 examples — that's not what he calls a "cut glass" pronunciation. Dropping it altogether I think would be really odd unless one is pronouncing the silent p. But something less than a archetypal t is pretty normal at the end of words.

  13. Michele said,

    July 30, 2018 @ 6:13 pm

    @Scott P: In American English, "receipt" has a distinct /t/ at the end.

    Maybe in your dialect it does. In mine, it sound like reh-SEE' (in which the tongue touches the teeth, but the T is not actually pronounced). BTW, in my dialect, "dialect" sounds like "DYE-uh-leck'" ending with that same tongue touch to the teeth.

    I so need to learn IPA….

  14. dainichi said,

    July 30, 2018 @ 9:36 pm

    @Michele: the tongue touches the teeth, but the T is not actually pronounced

    That's an unreleased t, [t̚], and standard for final /t/ in AmE.

    Does it exist in BrE too? I am under the impression that the preglottalized and released version, as well as the full glottal stop, are more common.

    I thought her English had both American and British features, with the final /t/s sounding more American, but the non-rhoticism sounding British.

  15. Chas Belov said,

    August 3, 2018 @ 3:09 am

    @everydaydroid: I was told once by a Singaporean that "red hair" was a reference to the red hair monkey in Journey to the West. Could be apocryphal, of course.

  16. Pflaumbaum said,

    August 4, 2018 @ 9:34 am

    @ dainichi

    In most UK accents the preglottalised, unreleased version and the glottal stop are both common word-finally. A released [t] before a consonant or pause is much less common (though it is a common realisation of final /d/).

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