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Striking a Balance

The Management of Language in Singapore


Uve Bierzunski

This study presents an overview of the management of language in Singapore. It focuses on the use of language as a resource and as a means of furthering national cohesion. The relative positions of the two major languages, Chinese and English, are traced from colonial times to this century, with reference to education, literature, and the emergence of distinctive local speech varieties. Major government interventions in the form of the Speak Mandarin Campaign and the Speak Good English Movement are discussed against a background of ongoing changes to the education system. A major theme is the influence of Lee Kuan Yew on language policy. Another is the need to strike a balance between the concerns of the different speech communities, and the significance of this balance for the future.
Contents: Sociolinguistic profile – Language planning and management – Achieving bilingualism – Language and education issues in the Chinese community – Lee Kuan Yew’s influence – Speak Mandarin Campaign – Diglossia in Singapore English – Codification initiatives – Singaporean literature – Speak Good English Movement – Educational reforms.