A patois paradox

The Business Times
View From The Top
Published: 6 June 2016

What’s your take on the inclusion of Singlish terms in the Oxford English Dictionary?

PERHAPS many Singaporeans have mixed feelings about the inclusion of Singlish terms in the Oxford English Dictionary. On the one hand it signifies Singapore’s growing prominence on the world stage, and that is a wonderful thing in and of itself.

That said, however, I find the inclusion of Singlish words in the OED rather unnecessary, as such terms are specific to Singapore culture and used only in our country.

If, for example, foreigners living in Singapore want to understand our local patois in order to better integrate into society, there is already a specific Singlish dictionary out there that they can refer to.

There is also a feeling of wanting to keep our national lexicon ours, as it’s what makes us uniquely Singaporean. So having parts of our cultural heritage appearing in the OED and maybe even adopted and used by people around the world may possibly dilute our unique culture.

Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd

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