A Confused Society



F: You look Chinese.

*S: I am a Singaporean.*

F: But you look Chinese.

*S: I am a Chinese Singaporean / I am a Singaporean Chinese.*

F: So do you speak Chinese?

*S: Yes, but not fluent.*

F: But you are a Chinese.

*S: I am a Singaporean Chinese, not Chinese from China.*

F: So you are not a Chinese?

*S: I am not Chinese from China.*

F: But your great grandfather is from China?

*S: Yes, but I was born in Singapore, so I am a Singaporean Chinese.*

F: So your great grandfather speaks Chinese?

*S: He speaks dialect.*

F: Do you speak dialect?

*S: No, I don’t.*

F: Why not?

*S: Because our country has a Speak Mandarin campaign that is so successful that the new generation practically do not speak dialect anymore.*

F: So you should speak very fluent Mandarin since it’s so successful?

*S: No. That campaign was effective before, but not anymore.*

F: Why?

*S: Because most people speak English nowadays. We have a Speak Good English campaign.*

F: So English is your National Language?

*S: No!*

F: So what is the National Language of Singapore?

*S: Malay.*

F: What?

*S: Yes, Malay!*

F: Do you speak Malay?

*S: No.*

F: Why not?

*S: Because I am not Malay.*

F: Then why is your National Language Malay?

*S: That’s another long history lesson.*

F: So your National Language is Malay and nobody speak it?

*S: The Malays speak Malay. That’s their mother tongue. We have 4 races: Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian. Each speaks their own mother tongue.*

F: So your mother tongue is Chinese?

*S: Yes.*

F: But you can’t speak it fluently?

*S: Yes.*

F: Does the Malay or Indian speak fluent mother tongue?

*S: More fluent than the Chinese speaking Chinese I supposed.*

F: Why?

*S: Because that’s their mother tongue.*

F: Then why can’t the Chinese?

*S: Because we speak English mainly in school.*

F: I last heard that Singapore has a bilingual policy.

*S: Yes, we have, we do learn mother tongue in school.*

F: But you cannot speak Chinese fluently.

*S: Yes.*

F: Why?

*S: Because our country’s working language is mainly English, there is not much places to use the language, perhaps only with our grandparents and when we buy things in the market.*

F: Then how is that bilingual?

*S: I don’t know.*

F: So you are a Singaporean Chinese who can’t speak your National Language, and cannot speak your mother tongue fluently and can only communicate in English with a strange accent.

*S: What’s wrong with my accent?*

F: I don’t know, it is just weird.

*S: Does it sound British or American?*

F: Neither, I thought you should sound British since you have been colonized before?

*S: No, that was long long time ago, dude.*

F: How come you try to sound American?

*S: Because I watch alot of Hollywood movies.*

F: Your English still sounds weird.

*S: Oh, we call it Singlish.*

F: So what are you really?

*S: I am a Singaporean!*

This is an extract from my friend, Simon on WhatsApp.

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