Singapore has 4 official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay (National Language) and Tamil

You would think speaking English would give you an advantage. Well it does to a certain degree but Singlish is really the lingua franca.

Singlish first emerged when Singapore gained independence 50 years ago, and decided that English should be the common language for all its different races. That was the plan. It worked out slightly differently though, as the various ethnic groups began infusing English with other words and grammar. English became the official language, but Singlish became the language of the street.

Among ordinary Singaporeans, Singlish tends to be spoken in informal situations – with friends and family, taking a taxi or buying groceries. It indicates casual intimacy. English, on the other hand, is used for formal situations – at school, or at work, especially when meeting strangers or clients.

Over time, it has become a social marker – someone who can effectively switch between the two languages is perceived to be more educated and of a higher social status than someone who can only speak Singlish.

Someone who can only speak English, and not Singlish, meanwhile, may be seen as a bit posh, or worse – not a real Singaporean.

*This was Shiok (very good/cool)

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