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By Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew

What function does race, geography, faith, orthography and nationalism play within the crafting of identities? What are the origins of Singlish? This publication bargains a radical research of outdated and new identities in Asia's so much international urban, tested in the course of the lens of language.

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Extra resources for A Sociolinguistic History of Early Identities in Singapore: From Colonialism to Nationalism

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Malay-medium schools The Malays were the only racial group provided free elementary education by the British, who were themselves influenced by a paternal and humanitarian sense of obligation to protect and preserve what they viewed was the way of life of the “rightful” people. The Malays were educated in the medium of Malay, ostensibly to ensure the continuation of their close bond between the traditional institutional structure and the Malay language. Sir George Maxwell, who was then British Chief Secretary to Malaya, described the policy in the following way: Our policy in regard to the Malay peasant is to give them as good an education as can be obtained in their own language.

The Tamils (Hindus) ate thosai, idali and appam for breakfast. The (Indian) Muslims sold prathas at Tanjong Pagar and Serangoon Road. 22 The Indians who attended Tamil-medium schools remained “very” Hindu since this language was linked closely to the Hindu faith. 23 However, the Indians who attended the English-medium schools were more Anglocized and a significant number of them had converted to Christianity (Chew, 2006). They were also distinguishable by the fact that they were economically better off due to their facility with the English language.

While language and identity in sociolinguistics texts are simply assumed, it should be noted that sometimes other identity markers are capable of replacing it (Dorian, 1999). This history therefore does not exclude identity-making through architecture, dress and food (see Chapter 8), as well as through the media, censuses, and town planning (see Chapter 2). Chapter 2 begins with an exploration of racial identity; a concept first popularized by the colonial powers and which still holds powerful sway in Singapore today.

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