Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

‘Technically wrong leh’: Leh as a feature of Singapore Colloquial English

  • Werner Botha
Extract

There has been much discussion on the use of particles (also referred to as ‘discourse particles’ or ‘pragmatic particles’) as a key feature of Singapore English. Wong (2004) has pointed out that particles are essential in the Singapore speech community, and in order to pass as a functional member of the speech community a speaker needs to have a proficient knowledge of the meanings and functions of particles in spoken (and increasingly in texted) discourse. There is no doubt that the use of particles in Singapore Colloquial English is prevalent in the language use of speakers in Singapore, as attested by the numerous studies conducted on the topic since the 1970s (including Tongue, 1974; Richards & Tay, 1981; Kwan–Terry, 1978; Platt & Weber, 1980; Platt, Weber & Ho, 1983; Platt & Ho, 1989; Gupta, 1992; Wong, 2004, 2005; Wee, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010; Liemgruber, 2016; Botha, 2018). Despite the fact that particles have been studied extensively, very few studies have investigated which particular particles can be considered prototypical in Singapore English in general, as well as more specifically in the vernacular speech of Singaporeans. Not only that, there appears still to be a lot we do not know about the functions and uses of many of these particles, specifically in the vernacular speech of Singaporeans.

Copyright
Corresponding author
References
Hide All
Bao, Z. & Wee, L. 1999. ‘The passive in Singapore English.’ World Englishes, 18(1), 111.
Botha, W. 2012. ‘Dimensions in variationist sociolinguistics: A sociolinguistic investigation of language variation in Macau.’ Master's dissertation. Pretoria: University of South Africa.
Botha, W. 2017. ‘The use of English in the social network of a student in South China: The social functions of language mixing among Chinese students.’ English Today, 33(4), 1929.
Botha, W. 2018. ‘A social network approach to the use of particles in Singapore English.’ World Englishes, 37(2), 261281.
Botha, W. In press. ‘The functions of language mixing in the social networks of Singapore students.’ International Journal of the Sociology of Language.
Botha, W. & Barnes, L. 2013. ‘Variation in the use of sentence final particles in Macau Cantonese.’ Chinese Language and Discourse, 4(2), 276295.
Botha, W. & Barnes, L. 2015. ‘Variation in Macau Cantonese: The case of initial and final segments.’ International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 236, 131.
Cavallaro, F., Ng, B. C. & Seilhamer, M. F. 2014. ‘Singapore colloquial English: Issues of prestige and identity.’ World Englishes, 33(3), 378397.
Department of Statistics Singapore. 2016. Department of Statistics Singapore. Online at <http://www.singstat.gov.sg/> (Accessed June 19, 2018).
Deterding, D. 2005. ‘Emergent patterns in the vowels of Singapore English.English World-Wide, 26(2), 179197.
Du Bois, J. W. 1991. ‘Transcription design principles for spoken discourse research.’ Pragmatics, 1(1), 71106.
Gupta, A. F. 1992. ‘The pragmatic particles of Singapore Colloquial English.’ Journal of Pragmatics, 18(1), 3157.
Kwan–Terry, A. 1978. ‘The meaning and the source of the “la” and the “what” particles in Singapore English.’ RELC Journal, 9, 2236.
Kwan–Terry, A. 1991. ‘Through the looking glass: A child's use of particles in Chinese and English and its implications on language transfer.’ In Kwan–Terry, A. (ed.), Child Language Development in Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore: University Press, pp. 161183.
Leimgruber, J. 2011. ‘Singapore English.’ Language and Linguistics Compass, 5(1), 4762.
Leimgruber, J. 2016. ‘Bah in Singapore English.World Englishes, 35(1), 7897.
Ler, S. L. V. 2006. ‘A relevance-theoretic approach to discourse particles in Singapore English.’ In Fischer, K. (ed.), Approaches to Discourse Particles. Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 149166.
Lim, L. (ed.). 2004. Singapore English: A Grammatical Description. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Lim, L. 2007. ‘Mergers and acquisitions: On the ages and origins of Singapore English particles.’ World Englishes, 26(4), 446473.
Low, E. L. & Brown, A. 2005. English in Singapore: An Introduction. Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Mufwene, S. 2001. The Ecology of Language Evolution. Cambridge: University Press.
Platt, J. 1987. ‘Communicative functions of particles in Singapore English.’ In Steele, R. & Threadgold, T. (eds.), Language Topics: Essays in Honour of Michael Halliday. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 391401.
Platt, J. T. & Ho, M. L. 1989. ‘Discourse particles in Singaporean English: Substratum influences and universals.’ World Englishes, 8(2), 215221.
Platt, J. T. & Weber, H. 1980. English in Singapore and Malaysia: Status, Features, Functions. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.
Platt, J. T., Weber, H. & Ho, M. L. 1983. Singapore and Malaysia. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Richards, J. C. & Tay, M. W. J. 1981. ‘Norm and variability in language use and language learning.’ In Smith, L. E. (ed.), English for Cross-Cultural Communication. London: Macmillan Press, pp. 4056.
Smakman, D. & Wagenaar, S. 2013. ‘Discourse particles in Colloquial Singapore English.’ World Englishes, 32(3), 308324.
Tongue, R. K. 1974. The English of Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
Wee, L. 2002. ‘Lor in colloquial Singapore English.Journal of Pragmatics, 34(6), 711725.
Wee, L. 2003. ‘The birth of a particle: “Know” in Colloquial Singapore English.World Englishes, 22(1), 513.
Wee, L. 2004. ‘Reduplication and discourse particles.’ In Lim, L. (ed.), Singapore English: A Grammatical Description. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 105126.
Wee, L. 2010. ‘The particle ya in Colloquial Singapore English.’ World Englishes, 29(1), 4558.
Wong, J. 2004. ‘The particles of Singapore English: A semantic and cultural interpretation.’ Journal of Pragmatics, 36(4), 739793.
Wong, J. 2005. ‘“Why you so Singlish one?” A semantic and cultural interpretation of the Singapore English particle one.’ Language in Society, 34, 239275.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed