Sunday, January 06, 2008

Whatever happened to mandarin?

Language in Singapore is something that's fascinated me. Not the language itself (as can be proven by my hard-earned Cs in second language), but how it's treated. There are four official languages in Singapore - Malay, English, Mandarin, Tamil. Once upon a time, it seemed like everything was translated into all four languages - signages, official documents, brochures, etc.etc. It started to change - nowadays, it's actually quite fun to spot when and where and what language is used. Usually you'll find that it's English + Another. The Another can be Japanese (usually tourist areas), Bengali (ReallY! More on that another time), Mandarin, Malay.

It's worth a thesis in its own right. In the meantime, I'm wondering why "What's Up Doc", a newsletter for patients published by the National Healthcare group of Polyclinics, only has English, Tamil, and Malay. No Mandarin. It's quite unusual.

Does this mean that all Chinese can speak English, and they're worried about the Malay and Indians?

On further examination, I realised that the articles were about healthy eating during Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali, which sort of explains everything, really. Still, I can't help being a little tickled by it all.

In the meantime, I'm tempted to try the recipe for Nasi Tomato yang Menyihatkan (Healthy Tomato rice).



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