Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/155980
Title: THE PLACE OF TAMIL IN THE LINGUISTICS LANDSCAPE OF LITTLE INDIA
Authors: DAVINI LAKSMI JAYAGOMAR
Issue Date: 15-Apr-2019
Citation: DAVINI LAKSMI JAYAGOMAR (2019-04-15). THE PLACE OF TAMIL IN THE LINGUISTICS LANDSCAPE OF LITTLE INDIA. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The Tamil language occupies a special place in the Linguistic Landscape (LL) of Singapore’s Little India. Using Landry and Bourhis’ (1997) LL approach, a LL refers to the geographical territory of a language community marked by languages on public and commercial signs. The minority language of Tamil has low ethnolinguistic vitality in Singapore’s wider LL. In contrast, the Indian ethnic enclave of Little India features the Tamil language on shop signs more prominently than anywhere else in Singapore. This study aims to examine the representation of Tamil and the functions of this language in the LL of Little India. Through a LL analysis of a 272-image corpus of shop signs along Serangoon Road in Little India, this paper reveals the prevalence of Tamil and its placement in the hierarchy of languages present in the LL. An ethnographic approach of LL analysis called nexus analysis established by Scollon & Scollon (2004) was used to study the reactions to shop signs among Indian youth in Singapore. Through a scene survey with 63 participants, this study investigates the Indian youths’ relationship with Tamil and their ideologies surrounding the representation of Tamil in Little India. The findings from the LL analysis and nexus analysis highlight the exclusivity of the higher vitality of Tamil to Little India. Such instrumental use of Tamil to symbolise the Indian ethnicity results in an essentialist correlation between Tamil and the Indian identity. The findings also reveal the fetishisation of Tamil in the tourist context of Little India. The subordinate position of Tamil to other official languages and its dominant position among other Indian languages are also discussed to evaluate the position of Tamil. The paper concludes by answering the research questions about the uniqueness of Tamil to Little India and its representativeness of the heterogeneous Indian community in Singapore.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/155980
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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