English as it is spoken

With the ongoing Speak Good English Campaign, there have been many government initiatives set up to promote this idea. Besides the regular banners and posters, the newspapers have also taken it up with the weekly “English as it is Broken” column, where readers are encouraged to send in pictures of instances where ‘broken’ English has been used. Examples include a Fishball Noodle stall with a large sign stating “Fishingball noodles”, and a warning road sign which states “Dead slow, Live children”. I personally chuckled when I saw the sign, as I thought that the guy who came up with that had a twisted sense of humor indeed.

Interestingly enough, even some of the local pubs have taken up the Speak Good English campaign, probably with collaborations with certain government organizations. Whatever it is, it sure was a bizzare experience walking into Timbre last night to see a stage covered with Speak Good English banners, and having staff hand out sponsored pens. Interesting indeed.

On a personal note, as a student of Linguistics, I personally am skeptical about the definition of “Good English”, although I do agree that there is a need for a certain kind of standardization of the language spoken for us to be competitive and at least understandable to other speakers of English around the world. As for what and whose standard specifically, this really goes into a lot about power and ideology that would probably take too long to write here. As far as I’m concerned, this campaign is heading in a reasonable direction.

2 Comments so far

  1. adrock2xander (unregistered) on August 5th, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

    Good English and Singaporeans in the same sentence.

    That has lawsuit written all over it.

    Singaporeans will never speak English well. I say the autocratic government best spend its monies elsewhere.

    I suggest “White people are not better than us” campaign.

  2. italicist (unregistered) on August 29th, 2007 @ 4:01 pm

    They should make a start with the Straits Times and MOE first — people there don’t know grammar. See http://englishasitisbroken.blogspot.com/

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