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Title: English in Singapore: Policies and prospects
Authors: Lim, L.
Pakir, A. 
Wee, L. 
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: The Republic of Singapore, independent since 1965, makes an interesting case study for various issues in sociolinguistics, not least because it is an ethnically and linguistically diverse society with a strong history of attempts at social engineering by the state. Language policies instituted by the state, follow-up language campaigns aimed at ensuring conformity to these policies, the ongoing tensions between what the state envisions for the general population and their actual language practices are just some of the phenomena that provide the grounding for a host of analyses. A common thread throughout these phenomena concerns the role of English. As a former British colony, Singapore's leaders inherited not only a system of government that relied heavily on the use of English, but also a population already given to viewing the language as an important resource for socio-economic mobility. So, rather than dispense with English, Singapore's leaders decided to retain it as an official language. This is characteristic of the state's 'pragmatic' approach to government, where social and economic policies have been formulated with the intention of keeping Singaporean society open to global and regional forces, whilst retaining a sense of stability and connection to a historic past, however imagined. In this context, the status of the English language is an important barometer of how successful Singapore is in its attempt to stay relevant to, and engaged with, the world 'outside', even as it insists on portraying itself in terms of a resolutely Asian identity. It is therefore no exaggeration to suggest that English is implicated everywhere in Singaporean society, as much by its varied manifestations as by its absence. What we intend to do in this brief introduction, then, is to spell out a number of the issues that are implicated by the place of English in Singapore. To do this, we first provide an overview of Singapore's language policy. We then discuss some relevant lines of investigation before closing with an outline of the various chapters that comprise the present volume. © 2010 by Hong Kong University Press, HKU. All rights reserved.
Source Title: English in Singapore: Modernity and Management
ISBN: 9789888028429
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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