Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Neither English or Mandarin Grammar - Is Singlish an excuse for bad Grammar structures?

Now there's been a lot online about English standards in Singapore, and I didn't have anything new to add to the conversation, until....

E-mail from an MOE staff (possibly a teacher.)
(sanitized to protect identification)


"You can come tomorrow morning before 12 noon? thanks."

----- Original Message -----
When do you want me to drop by with the ABC? I have most of the EFGs barring XYZ for the moment, can I drop by tomorrow or Friday? Please advise.

Try translating the sentence into Mandarin. It also appears to contain structural deficiencies.

How about Singlish? Is there a proper grammatical structure to Singlish? Would the above sentence sound like Singlish to most Singlish-acclimatized ears?

I don't know, but if MOE teachers communicate like this, and the growing trend towards less reading and more cut-scene based knowledge acquisition (see Star Wars 3 for a fine example of cut-scene film-making), is it any wonder we have a growing problem with speaking English properly?

I'm usually on the side of language evolution, and that there are infinite varieties of a common tongue, but this is just plain BAD.

Ouch. Where can the healing begin now that the problem has been starkly personified?



Blogger John Riemann Soong said...

Most of the flaws I see are generally careless mistakes or mispronounciation. For some reason some people choose not to aspirate certain syllables ... but then again sometimes it's conspicuous because it comes from one's identity, because other people with accents (Germans, rappers, Southerners and what have you) don't seem as obnoxious.

I don't see huge deficiencies in there - probably just not delightfully flowing. In French it would be grammatically correct. "Tu peux venir le matin de demain avant douze heures? Merci."

Inverting the "you can" into "can you" in fact isn't mandatory, but I'm not sure if you were flagging that or pointing something else. Of course, maybe I have too much French influence...

On the other hand, "please advise" is also grammatically correct, but omitting the object ("me") is awkward.

6:47 AM  

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