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Title: Creative Destruction: Singapore's Speak Good English Movement
Authors: Rubdy, R. 
Issue Date: 2001
Citation: Rubdy, R. (2001). Creative Destruction: Singapore's Speak Good English Movement. World Englishes 20 (3) : 341-355. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The increasing use of Singlish in the media, in early schooling & other everyday domains reflects its growing importance as a symbol of social identity & cohesion in Singapore. However, this trend runs counter to the country's avowed economical goals of becoming a knowledge hub in the region, which it seeks to achieve by developing a highly skilled service sector that is proficient in (Standard) English. Thus, paradoxically, despite a new policy initiative to loosen their traditional tight grip on society in the interest of developing a nation of creative risk-takers, the authorities have recently launched the Speak Good English movement: spawning a slew of editorials, cartoons, skits, & commercials in a vigorous attempt at generating awareness among the public of the need to promote the use of Standard English. This paper attempts to show that this move to stem the popularity of Singlish is yet another manifestation of the notion of "creative destruction," currently being proposed as a strategy to improve the efficiency of corporate & industrial businesses in the country. "Creative destruction" entails the partial destruction of existing economic ideas & structures which rapidly obsolesce with the emergence of new ones. Drawing a parallel with the Speak Mandarin campaign, which has successfully resulted in the dispersal of the local Chinese dialects, the paper argues that this attempt to replace Singlish with Standard English, while throwing up valid issues of social identity & cohesion (which are prone to get subsumed by the more urgent pragmatic & economic rationalizations proffered), can then be seen as a triumph of the relentless, hegemonic forces of globalization.
Source Title: World Englishes
ISSN: 08832919
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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