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is for Can

12th Febuary 2000, Sat

"Can or not? Cannot ah? Why cannot leh? Can lah, sure can one!"

Singapore English, also commonly and more intimately known as Singlish, is a specialty of Singaporeans. The debate over whether Singlish should be discouraged is, in my opinion, pointless. Why is that so?

If you recognize this to be a specialty of Singaporeans, doesn't this imply that this has already been part of Singaporean culture? With all the hype about building a more 'cultural' Singapore, and all the complains about Singapore lacking in a distinctive culture to call her own, isn't it an irony then to eradicate something that is embedded in our roots; something that is uniquely Singapore?

Let's face it, if you think Singlish is ugly, you don't have to use it. But don't try to abolish something that is in our roots. Why shouldn't it be allowed to remain?

It's as good as denying that you are a Chinese when you have yellow skin, black hair, and dark brown eyes.

If one is proud to say that one is a Singaporean, why should he or she feel ashamed to use Singlish? Just because it sounds bad? But who is to set the standard? What is considered good, and what considered bad? Is Singlish really substandard English? I don't think so, for Singlish shouldn't be treated like an English language at all, even though it derives its main part of the lexicon from English language. If we use the standards of English language to judge Singlish, of course, Singlish can never measure up to English, because it will never be a fair yardstick to use in the first place.

So, to use or not to use, you decide, uh?

Copyright Renee's Realm. 2000.