“What language do you speak in Singapore?” Have you ever been asked this question?
In a country that is home to a myriad of races, nationalities, ethnicities, religions and cultures, have you ever wondered why English is our primary language?
Singapore started off being a part of Malaya, and our national language was Malay. Our national anthem is still being sung in Malay and some of the older non-Malay generation are still able to speak it fluently, but English has still taken over our little cultural paradise.
Singapore chose English as its official language back in 1965 in order to become significant in the trade world. It was made the working language for business administration and the government.
Why English though? Across the world, like us, over 400 million people have taken English as their first language. Another billion know it as a second language and it is the official language in about 60 countries.
English has adopted vocabulary from innumerable other languages such as, Greek, Sanskrit and Latin and now it seems that English has been changing the ways other languages are being used. The Germans and Swedes, for example, have been using English grammatical forms.
English is now recognized as the “Universal language”, spoken by more non-native speakers internationally than any other. So, if you’ve started sprucing up your grasp of the language, you’re definitely on the right track!
Having an entire world speaking the same language definitely has its pros and cons. Uniting people and making business, travel and communication easier is definitely a plus point. However, is adopting English making us reduce the use of our mother tongues?
Old traditions are already making way for more modern ones due to the increase in technology and changing environments. Language is no stranger to this trend. Linguists estimate that almost 90% of the world’s languages will become extinct in the next hundred years. Races, cultures and languages are all being blurred and blended into one another as barriers are starting to fade rapidly.
English is here to stay and its spread just reaching wider and further from its Anglo-Saxon roots. Fortunately for us, our leaders had the foresight to see the importance of the English language for Singapore’s future.
Clearly English is essential and it’s time to learn, speak and write it well!