Singaporean internet chit chat compared to informal spoken language*
Linguistic variation and indexicality in a language contact situation
This paper compares data from a Singaporean chit chat forum to informal spoken data. We first perform a qualitative analysis of text samples in a framework of indexicality. Then we present quantitative findings for two (sets of) features each of the contact variety Singlish (particles, the kena-passive) and spoken English in general (discourse markers, contractions). For the former some similarities are observed but we also find that the forum contributors tend to be creative and innovative in their choice of particles. In this connection we argue that they index specific subgroup identities and further point out that Singlish is a rather flexible set of resources. Our findings differ from those of previous research on Jamaican Creole as used in an internet forum, thus showing that the use of contact varieties in computer-mediated communication can take different forms. The general features of spoken English are used comparatively less in the forum data, indicating that using Singlish features in writing is not tantamount to writing down spoken language. Moreover, we draw attention to features of computer-mediated communication in in the chit chat forum data. Finally we discuss implications in terms of the Dynamic Model of the evolution of Postcolonial Englishes (Schneider 2007).