Wednesday, May 12, 2010

[another supporting rant to someone else's rant]


Jonno's perspective

and the comments at:

YawningBread's Wordpress

Ah hm,

just because it was rant-y in nature does not denigrate the viability of it’s perspective.

Overseas, Singlish (or more accurately malayglish or SEAglish?) creeps in when groups of Singaporeans/Malaysians/Indonesians congregate. Does that make it wrong? It makes us feel more comfortable with people who live in a similar region. (feels like home?)

As for whither Singaporeans can code-switch between ENGLISH as it is understood and Singlish as it is conveyed, I have serious doubts about the younger generations’ ability to do so in their minds. (and no, no statistics, just day-to-day dealings with them.)

Whither dialects or Mandarin at home, the very fact is that the move towards Mandarin was most probably politically motivated to tear Singaporeans away from their China-based clan/dialect identities back in the 60s/70s. Did it succeed? probably. I have no clan identity as a member of the Henghua dialect as I was never taught the dialect, nor given any exposure to it as a child.

We wear tribal identities as we desire. More Singaporean-born Chinese find tribal identities in football clubs than in their clan associations for one. Singapore wanted to create it’s own Chinese (non-dialect) identity in the 70s. It succeeded, at the cost which we pay today, being un-lingual instead of monolingual or bilingual.

Many in most other countries seem to survive on one language pretty fine. They are given the option of taking on second languages or third languages because they want to. Was the MTL policies needed in the 70s to distract the then politically-aware Chinese majority?

Now here is a sacred cow to slay – if all our educational syllabi are taught in the official working language of English – and mother-tongue-languages are taught in mother tongue, is it any wonder it feels alien in the classroom? Why even weigh mother tongue at all then in a PSLE/O&A-levels? After all, nobody overseas in the tertiary world cares if we have a second language proficiency, only that we can survive studying in whatever local language that university teaches in.

And as for the earlier comments who are dismissive, perhaps, it might also show generational gaps? Or am I overgeneralizing too? If YawningBread thought the perspective was different enough to put it separate and invite comment on it, I find it very sad that the first few comments are denigrating towards the perspective itself (and probably derogatory towards the ‘rant-ist’ in itself). And how those few comments seem to take certain ruling-party assumption/perspectives as sacred truth without question.

As for freedom of choice to learn languages – ha ha ha. Our overwhelmed school children have time for a 3rd language of choice given all the additional mandarin tuition that they undergo just to keep up?

Apologies to other mother tongues – but I can only speak from my perspective of the mandarin-MTL. I understand (probably from previous YB essays) that the Tamil-MTL students also have much difficulty dealing with it. And they get even less attention. (was it in another essay that also mentioned that our Malay-MTL requirements are way lower than our neighbours?)

As for knowing Singrlish, I am no expert, but the common use of it is in the substitution of mandarin (malay also?) grammar structure in an English sentence. And having the occasional chance to peek at essays that our teachers’ mark, and hearing their despair over their students’ indifference/inability to comprehend the concept of code-switching much less the issue of ever-evolving English grammar, I will firmly plant my flag with our guest rant-ist…. because it WILL (and already has) become a problem.

[I wonder who will start ranting on the SMS text appearing in english essays.]


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