Standing up for Singlish

Standing up for Singlish

Are Singlish speakers incompetent? That's what one user of an online forum seemed to suggest when posing the question: "Why don't Singaporeans try to speak proper English?"

Posted on the question-and-answer website Quora, it made New York University (NYU) student Grace Teng, 24, see red.

"Oh wow. You're spoiling for a fight," the film and TV undergraduate replied on the forum, before launching into a passionate defence of Singlish on Nov 17.

Her analysis of why Singlish should not be considered "bad English" - thumbed from her mobile phone with nary a typo - has since gone viral, picking up virtual thumbs-up from Singaporeans and expatriates alike.

In the space of two weeks, it garnered about 1,300 votes on Quora.

Closer to home, websites and bloggers gave a standing ovation by sharing her reply on various social media platforms.

Miss Teng, a proud Singaporean, tells The New Paper on Sunday over e-mail that she is extremely surprised by the reach her response has gained.

The Victoria Junior College and Dunman High School alumnus now hopes her response will spark a debate on the cultural importance of Singlish.

"I'd like for it to open up a more critical discussion of Singlish as a language and as a cultural reference point," she says.

"Most people already know where they stand on Singlish. The question was just an opportunity for a large number of people to express how they feel about it."

And in case you think she is "out there marshalling an army of people to support Singlish", she points out that it is not her aim.

"If others want to turn it into a flame war, it's their prerogative and none of my business," she says.

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