Can I speak English in Singapore

Singapore: the country that is ashamed of its language

“Shiok!” Is now socially acceptable. In Singapore and Malaysia every child knows this cheerful expression for “great!”. And from now on this should apply to the whole world: Recently, “shiok” can be found in the renowned Oxford English Dictionary - the Bible of the English language. Together with 18 other expressions of the local Singlish dialect, "shiok" was added to the venerable list of this dictionary and thus made part of the world language.

Danica Salazar, an advisory editor for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), said in an interview with the BBC that the new words show that "people don't necessarily have to speak English like the Americans or the British for it to be correct". English is "such a global language, and that should be celebrated!"

Precious cultural asset or embarrassing idiot language?

In Singapore itself, this decision created two fronts: some consider the Singlish a precious cultural asset, others an embarrassing idiot language that makes Singapore look ridiculous on the global stage - and their children are not competitive in international competition.

“Wah!” (An exclamation of pure joy and recently also found in the praised book), some cheer. They welcome the revaluation of their native dialect. The gentle singsong of the Singlish, its abbreviated, partially directly translated patchwork terms from the various tongues of multicultural society, stand for the deeply rooted tradition of the Southeast Asian tiger state.

Singlish is a mix of the four national languages ​​English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, flavored with expressions directly from the local dialects such as Hokkien, Cantonese or Bengali. For the purpose of integration, the Singaporeans have had to learn the four main languages ​​since the state was founded in 1965. In everyday life, this has become a playful mix over the years, the Singlish. A language for the common people, a lingua franca that actually connected the different peoples and that everyone could speak simply because everything is allowed in Singlish and fits together.

There are also a few expressions from everyday life, made in Singapore. “Killer Litter” is one of them, which now also has its permanent place in the OED. They are falling objects, an annoying, sometimes fatal threat from nefarious citizens who simply toss their rubbish, even crates of drinks and old refrigerators, out the windows or balconies of their high-rise apartments. The encyclopedia also added some local delicacies such as "Chilli Crab", "Teh Tarik" (sweet, thick milk tea) and "Char Siu" (roasted pork in a sweet sauce) to its list.

"That's not English!"

But now a fierce cultural debate is raging. For example, the filmmaker Jack Neo, who is very well known in Asia, is happy: “I am always disappointed when Singlish is condemned as inappropriate and unpolished. Now the international experts have finally recognized it as decent. ”The satirist Sylvia Toh also says:“ You have to be happy and feel proud, because this recognizes that Singlish is an important part of our national identity. Ironically, it is just a former colonial power that is honoring this while our own government is fighting against it. "