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Title: Linguistic instrumentalism in Singapore
Authors: Wee, L. 
Keywords: Identity
Language policy
Political discourse
Issue Date: 2003
Citation: Wee, L. (2003). Linguistic instrumentalism in Singapore. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 24 (3) : 211-224. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The need to participatein a globalisedeconomy createsa situationwhere 'the abilityto cross boundaries' and the 'construction of new global, international norms' are especially important, and this has led to the 'old politics of identity' being increasingly abandoned 'in favour of a new pragmatic position' where language and culture are valuedas commodifiable resources(Heller,1999a:5). In Singapore, thismove towards a more pragmatic viewof language canbe seenin the Government's attempt to assertthe economic value of the local languages, officially known as 'mother tongues'. The mother tongues originally contrast with English in a narrative where they are treated primarily as repositories of cultural values, and thus assigned to a domain (the traditional and cultural) that is distinct from that assigned to the latter (the economic and technological). This paper explores the factors motivating the Government's shift towards a discourse of linguistic instrumentalism, as well as its consequences, and ends by suggesting some possible general features of linguistic instrumentalism. © 2003 L.Wee.
Source Title: Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
ISSN: 01434632
DOI: 10.1080/01434630308666499
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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