Article published in:Multilingualism and Language Diversity in Urban Areas: Acquisition, identities, space, education
Edited by Peter Siemund, Ingrid Gogolin, Monika Edith Schulz and Julia Davydova
[Hamburg Studies on Linguistic Diversity 1] 2013
► pp. 227–256
The management of multilingualism in a city-state
Language policy in Singapore
Language policy in Singapore exists against a background of large diversity, a diversity that has been present in the city-state ever since its founding, and which is manifest both in ethnic and in linguistic terms. The government deals with this diversity in several ways: firstly, in giving recognition to the three major ethnic groups (Chinese, Malays, and Indians) by assigning them an official language (Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil, respectively), and secondly, by endorsing English as the main working (and educational, administrative, governmental, etc.) language of the country. Further policies include the demotion of varieties without official status: specifically non-Mandarin varieties of Chinese and Singlish, the local English vernacular. This paper explores these policies and the reasons that motivated them.
Keywords: ethnic diversity, language policy, linguistic diversity, Singapore, Speak Good English Movement, Speak Mandarin Campaign
Published online: 31 May 2013
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