A Sociolinguistic History of Early Identities in Singapore: by Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew

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 This e-book bargains a radical research of outdated and new identities in Asia's so much worldwide urban, tested during the lens of language.

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Through these printed vignettes in the media, the colonized were made to understand their racial identities in a hierarchical and well-ordered society. To be fair, the British were circumspect not only of non-whites but also of other Europeans, although to a lesser degree. For example, in “A Padre in Partibus”, George Reith (1899: 144) portrayed his meeting with a Dutch resident in Batavia in 1896 in the following way: Do you speak English, Sir? ” What is the meaning of the syllabus Tji with which all the names here begin?

Interestingly, the British designated the Malay population as clearly “Muslims”, thus setting the stage for Islam to become closely identified as “the religion of the Malays”, rather than as a universal faith in its own right irrespective of race. This was reinforced by confining Islam to very specific areas of Malay life, for example, marriage, divorce, inheritance, the administration of Muslim affairs in general, including the collection and disbursement of zakat (“tithes”). In addition, the British made the Sultan the supreme head of religious matters, after their own Anglicanism.

15 As early as 1673, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple in Malacca served as the political headquarters of the Kapitan Cina of the Chinese community. This was also the case with the Guanyin Temple established in 1800 in Penang and the Thian Hock Kheng established in 1839 in Singapore (Frost, 2003). These temples (and clan associations) helped alleviate the state of anomie that new immigrants often experienced by reproducing the linguistic practices and cultural norms that they were familiar with (Teo, 2010).

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