Article published in:Negation and Contact: With special focus on Singapore English
Edited by Debra Ziegeler and Zhiming Bao
[Studies in Language Companion Series 183] 2017
► pp. 11–32
Towards a diachronic reconstruction of Colloquial Singapore English
Although many grammatical phenomena of Singapore English are well researched, a general picture on the development of Colloquial Singapore English (CSE) over the past few decades has yet to be established. This article intends to address the question if and to what extent Colloquial Singapore English is diachronically stable by studying the distributions of two salient grammatical markers of CSE, namely the aspectual marker already and the additive particle also, in the Singaporean component of the International Corpus of English (ICE-SG) and the Oral History Interviews held by National Archives of Singapore. Besides presenting exemplifications of already and also which pose interesting challenges to Bao’s (2005: 257) theory of systemic transfer, it also provides evidence that higher ratios of already and also are indicative of higher substrate influence. The paper further compares the frequency data in the Oral History Interviews with ICE-SG and concludes that they offer no convincing evidence for CSE being phased out in favor of Standard English. In addition, attitudes held towards CSE as determined by age as well as social and ethnic background show that there is a growing tendency to embrace CSE as a code of national identity.
Published online: 31 May 2017
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