|1.2 million (2010 census)|
L2 speakers: 880,000 (1985)
|Simplified Chinese characters|
Traditional Chinese characters (Personal names only)
Official language in
|Regulated by||Promote Mandarin Council|
Singapore Centre for Chinese Language
|Literal meaning||Singapore Chinese Language|
|Life in Singapore|
Singaporean Mandarin (simplified Chinese: 新加坡华语; traditional Chinese: 新加坡華語; pinyin: Xīnjiāpō Huáyǔ) is a variety of Mandarin Chinese spoken natively in Singapore. It is one of the four official languages of Singapore along with English, Malay and Tamil.
Singaporean Mandarin can be classified into two distinct Mandarin dialects: Standard Singaporean Mandarin and Colloquial Singaporean Mandarin (Singdarin). These two dialects are easily distinguishable to a person proficient in Mandarin. The standard is the register of Mandarin used in more formal occasions in Singapore and can be heard on television and radio. It is also the form taught in all Singapore government schools, while the colloquial is the form used by the general populace in informal situations. Singaporean Mandarin has many unique loanwords from other Chinese dialects (such as Hokkien) as well as Singapore's other official languages of English, Malay and Tamil.
Singaporean Mandarin became widely spoken by the Chinese community in Singapore after the Speak Mandarin Campaign by the government in 1979. It is today considered to be the second most commonly spoken language in Singapore, after English. Due to its widespread usage, Singaporean Mandarin has replaced Singaporean Hokkien as the lingua franca of the Chinese community today. Following the economic rise of China in the 21st century, Mandarin proficiency has been viewed with greater importance and has risen in terms of prominence in Singapore. In 2010, there was an increase in the number of Singaporean population who know two or more languages.
With increasing influx of mainland Chinese from mainland China to Singapore since the beginning of the 21st century, Singaporean Mandarin has gradually inclined itself towards Standard Chinese, although there are unique differences that has been retained. Currently, Singaporean Mandarin continues to develop itself with major influences coming from Standard Chinese, Taiwanese Mandarin and English. Since the 2010s, the percentage of Singaporean Chinese speaking Mandarin at home has begun to decrease recently, in favour of Singaporean English.
The official standard of Mandarin of Republic of Singapore, known in Singapore as Huayu (華語/华语), is based on the phonology of the Beijing dialect and the grammar of Vernacular Chinese, is almost identical to the standard of Mandarin used in the People's Republic of China (known there as Pǔtōnghuà 普通话) and the Republic of China (Taiwan) (known there as Guóyǔ 國語). Standard Singaporean Mandarin, which is usually heard on Singaporean Mandarin-language TV and radio news broadcast, is generally more similar to Guoyu in terms of phonology, vocabulary and grammar than Putonghua. Small differences only appear in the form of lexicon.
Main article: Singdarin
In terms of colloquial spoken Mandarin, Singaporean Mandarin is subjected to influence from the local historical, cultural and social influences of Singapore. As such, there are remarkable differences between colloquial Singaporean Mandarin (Singdarin) and Standard Chinese, and a non-Singaporean Chinese speaking individual may find it difficult to understand Singdarin.
Singaporean Mandarin has preserved the vocabulary and certain other features from Classical Chinese and early Vernacular Chinese (早期白話; zǎoqī báihuà), dating back from the early 20th century. Since Singapore's Chinese medium schools adopted Chinese teaching materials from Republic of China in the early 20th century, Singapore's early Mandarin pronunciations was based on the Zhuyin in the Dictionary of National Pronunciation (國音字典; Guó yīn zìdiǎn) and Vocabulary of National Pronunciation for Everyday Use (國音常用字彙). As such, it had preserved many older forms of pronunciations. In addition, during its initial development, Singaporean Mandarin was also influenced by the other Chinese varieties of Singapore such as Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese etc.
From 1949 to 1979, due to lack of contact between Singapore and People's Republic of China, Putonghua did not exert any form of influence on Singaporean Mandarin. On the contrary, the majority of Mandarin Chinese entertainment media, Chinese literature, books and reading materials in Singapore came mainly from Taiwan. Consequently, Singaporean Mandarin has been influenced by Taiwanese Mandarin to a certain degree. After the 1980s, along with China's Open Door Policy, there was increasing contact between Singapore and mainland China, thus increasing Putonghua's gradual influence on Singaporean Mandarin. These influences included the adoption of pinyin and the shift from usage of Traditional Chinese characters to Simplified Chinese characters. Much of the lexicon from Putonghua had also found its way into Singaporean Mandarin although not to a huge extent.
Historical sources indicated that before 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles came to Singapore, there were already Chinese settlers in Singapore. After 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles set foot on Singapore, many Peranakan from Malayan and European merchants began to come to Singapore. Because they required large number of labourers, coolies were brought in from China to Singapore.
Large number of Chinese labourers came to Singapore after the Opium War. Chinese settlers who came to Singapore from China during the 19th and second half of the 20th century were known as "sinkeh" (新客). Amongst them were many contract labourers, including those who worked at the docks. Most of them came to Singapore to escape from poverty and to search for a better life, while others came to Singapore to escape from wars taking place in China during the first half of the 20th century. Most of them came from Southern Chinese provinces such as Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan.
Amongst these Sinkeh, there were many Hoklo (Hokkien), Teochew, Cantonese and Hainanese. They brought their own different native Chinese varieties to Singapore, including Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka and Hainanese. Because these varieties were mutually unintelligible, Chinese clans association were established based on their own ancestral home and dialect groups to help take care of their own people who speak the same dialect.
The use of Mandarin to serve as a lingua franca amongst the Chinese only began with the founding of Republic of China, which established Mandarin as the official tongue.
Before the 20th century, old-style private Chinese schools, known as sīshú (私塾) in Singapore, generally used Chinese dialects (such as Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, etc.) as their medium of instruction to teach the Chinese classics and Classical Chinese. Singapore's first Mandarin-medium classes appeared around 1898, but Chinese dialect schools continued to exist up to 1909.
After the May Fourth Movement in 1919, under the influence from the New Culture Movement in China, the local Old-style private Chinese school in Singapore began to follow the new education reform as advocated by China's reformist. Thus, the language of medium in school changed from other Chinese dialects to Mandarin Chinese or Guóyǔ (國語). This marked the beginning of the development of Singaporean Mandarin.
However, at that time, there was no colloquial Standard Mandarin which could be used as a basis for learning Mandarin. In addition, during the early 1900s, most Mandarin teachers in Singapore came from southern parts of China, and had strong southern Chinese accents. Thus, the pronunciations in Singaporean Mandarin were under heavy influence from China's southern Chinese dialects; for instance, there were no erhua (兒化), light tone (輕聲), and no sentences had the heavy or light accent (輕重音) etc.
In 1919, a group of scholars in China published the Dictionary of National Pronunciation. This was one of the earliest dictionaries on modern Mandarin based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. However, the dictionary was a mix of northern Chinese sounds and southern Chinese rhymes, which included a 5th tone; the checked tone (rù shēng or 入聲). It wasn't until 1932 that a dictionary called the Vocabulary of National Pronunciation for Everyday Use, which was based truly on the Beijing dialect, was published. This dictionary standardized the form of Mandarin taught in Singapore's Chinese schools. During the 1930s and 1940s, new immigrants from China, known as xīn kè (新客) helped to established more Chinese schools in Singapore, increasing the propagation of Mandarin Chinese in Singapore. The name of Mandarin in Singapore was eventually changed from Guoyu (國語, i.e. National Language) to Huayu (華語, i.e. Chinese Language).
From the 1950s till 1970, as most of the Chinese books and literature came from Taiwan or Hong Kong, Singaporean Mandarin was subjected to influence from Taiwanese Mandarin. After the 1980s, due to the open door policy of mainland China, Singapore began to have greater contact with mainland China. Consequently, Singapore began to adopt Hanyu Pinyin and changed its writing system from Traditional Chinese characters to Simplified Chinese characters. After the Speak Mandarin Campaign in 1979, the Promote Mandarin Council started research on Mandarin standardization based on case studies in mainland China and Taiwan.
After the 1990s, due to greater contacts between Singapore and mainland China, there was a large influx of new Chinese migrants from mainland China. Consequently, much of the lexicon of Putonghua found its way into Singaporean Mandarin. Today's Singaporean Mandarin continues to be influenced from Putonghua, as well as Taiwanese Mandarin and Hong Kong's Cantonese.
Major differences between Singaporean Mandarin Huayu (華語) and Putonghua lie in the vocabulary used. A lack of contact between Singapore and China from 1949 to 1979 meant that Singaporean Mandarin had to invent new words to fit the local context, as well as borrow words from Taiwanese Mandarin or other Chinese varieties that were spoken in Singapore. As a result, new Mandarin words proprietary to Singapore were invented.
The Dictionary of Contemporary Singaporean Mandarin Vocabulary (時代新加坡特有詞語詞典) edited by Wang Huidi (汪惠迪) listed 1,560 uniquely local Singaporean Mandarin words, which are not used in Mainland China or Taiwan.
There are many new terms that are specific to living in Singapore. These words were either translated from Malay and Chinese dialects (or invented) as there were no equivalent words in Putonghua. Some of the words are taken from the Hokkien translation of Malay words. Words translated from Malay into Hokkien include kampung, pasar (巴刹, English 'market'). This explains the uniquely Singapore Mandarin words.
|Traditional Chinese||Simplified Chinese||Pinyin||Definition|
|紅毛丹||红毛丹||hóngmáodān||rambutan (a type of Southeast Asian fruit)|
|奎籠||奎笼||kuílóng||kelong (a place for fishing)|
|沙爹||沙爹||shādiē||Satay (a type of Singaporean Malay food)|
|囉㘃/羅惹||罗惹||luōrě||Rojak (a type of Singaporean Malay food)|
|清湯||清汤||qīngtāng||clear soup or broth|
|固本||固本||gùběn||coupon. Also used for car parking|
|組屋||组屋||zǔwū||flat built by Housing Development Board|
|保健儲蓄||保健储蓄||bǎo jiàn chǔ xǜ||medisave (medical saving)|
|周末用車||周末用车||zhōu mò yòng chē||Weekend Car (a classification of car ownership in Singapore)|
|財路||财路||cáilù||"Giro" (a system of payment through direct bank account deduction in Singapore)|
|巴刹||巴刹||bāshā||"bazaar" or market or pasar (Malay)|
|mín zhòng jù lè bù
lián luò suǒ
|叻沙||叻沙||lāsā||laksa (a type of curry noodle)|
|垃圾蟲||垃圾虫||lèsè chóng/lājī chóng||"litter-bug"; someone who violated the law for littering|
|建國一代||建国一代||jiàn guó yí dài||Pioneer generation; to describe the early builders of Singapore|
There are some words used in Singaporean Mandarin that have the same meaning with other words used in Putonghua or Taiwanese Mandarin:
|乐龄||lè líng||old people||老龄
nián zhǎng zhě
|三文治||sān wén zhì||sandwich||三明治
sān míng zhì
|From English "sandwich" via Cantonese 三文治 sāam màhn jih|
|compare Cantonese 的士 dīk sih (from English "taxi").|
jí zhuāng xiāng
|火災 is also used in Singapore and Taiwan.|
|From classical Chinese. 耐用 is also used in Singapore.|
|驾车||jià chē||drive a car||开车
|The word 驾 originates from classical Chinese. 开车 is also used in Singapore. 驾车 has also found its way into Putonghua vocabulary.|
dì yī gè
|第一个 is also used in Singapore. 首个 has also found its way into Putonghua vocabulary.|
|公众||gōng zhòng||public mass||群众
|公众 has also found its way into Putonghua vocabulary. 群众 is also used in Singapore, as in 群众大会 (rally).|
|群体||qún tǐ||organized group||集体
|群体 has also found its way into Putonghua and Taiwanese Mandarin vocabulary. 集体 is also used in Singapore, more commonly as an adverb (en masse).|
|第一时间||dì yī shí jiān||immediately||立刻
|Literally 'the first timing'. Both 立刻 and 立即 are used in Singapore as well.|
|一头雾水||yī tóu wù shǔi||blurred and confused||晕头转向
yūn tóu zhǔan xìang
hú lǐ hú tú
|the idiom 一头雾水 has also found its way into Putonghua vocabulary.|
|From Hokkien/Cantonese, Hokkien: bé-thâu, Cantonese: ma tau. 头 may carry a neutral tone in Mandarin, thus the phrase becoming mǎtou.|
|领导 is sometimes used in Singapore, more commonly as a verb (to lead).|
|手提电话||shǒu tí diàn huà||mobile phone||手机
xíng dòng diàn huà/shǒu jī
|手机 is also used in Singaporean Mandarin, although less frequently.|
|客工||kè gōng||foreign worker||外勞
|外劳 also appears in some Singaporean Chinese writing (e.g. Lianhe Zaobao)|
|农夫 was an older Chinese term used in China before 1949, but continues to be used in Singapore.|
gōng jiāo chē
gōng chē/bā shì
|电单车||diàn dān chē||motorcycle||摩托车
mó tuō chē
|From English word "lorry".|
|From Hokkien kak-thâu. Note that in Putonghua, 角头 actually means "chieftain of mafia/secret society" instead of "corner". Occasionally, the phrase carries the Putonghua meaning in Singaporean context, so the latter may be clarified with a postposition like 间 jiān (in between), 内 nèi or 里 lǐ (both mean 'in(side)').|
|散钱||sǎn qián||small change||零钱
|Originates from classical Chinese. 散钱 is also used in Putonghua, while 零钱 is sometimes used in Singapore, especially in writing.|
There are certain similar words used in both Singaporean Mandarin and Putonghua, but have different meanings and usage.
|Chinese Characters||Pinyin||Meaning in Huayu||Meaning in Putonghua||Notes|
|小姐||xiǎo jiě||Miss||Prostitute or lady involved in sex trade||小姐 is used to refer to a lady or waitress in restaurant in Singaporean Mandarin. However, in Putonghua, 小姐 has negative connotation in the northern provinces, used mainly to refer to prostitutes. 女士 or 服务员 tends to be more commonly used in Putonghua, instead of 小姐. In Taiwan it is used the same way as in Singapore.|
|对付||duì fù||fight against/counteract||take action to deal with a person or problem||对付 is used to refer in negative connotation in Singaporean Mandarin to mean fight or counteract e.g. against a criminal or terrorist. But in Putonghua, it can have positive connotation to mean take action dealing with a person or problem.|
|懂||dǒng||know||understand||懂 is commonly used in Singaporean Mandarin to mean "know" instead of 知道 (Putonghua). 懂 means 'understand' in Putonghua.|
|计算机||jì suàn jī||calculator||computer||计算机 is commonly used in Singaporean Mandarin to mean 'calculator'. In PRC, the word 计算器 is used instead to refer to 'calculator'. 计算机 means computer in PRC, although in the recent years, the word 电脑 for computer has also become more popular in PRC.|
There is quite a number of specific words used in Singaporean Mandarin that originate from other Chinese varieties such as Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese etc. These languages have also influenced the pronunciation in Singaporean Mandarin.
|阿兵哥||ā bìng gē||soldiers||originates from Hokkien "a-peng-ko"|
|怕输||pà shū||afraid to lose||originates from Hokkien "kiaⁿ-su" (驚輸)|
|几时||jǐ shí||when?||originates from Hokkien "kuí-sî" (幾時) or Classical Chinese|
|阿公||ā gōng||grandpa||originates from Hokkien "a-kong"|
|阿嬷||ā mā||grandma||originates from Hokkien "a-má" (阿嬤).|
|阿婆||ā pó||old lady||originates from Hokkien "a-pô"|
|很显||hěn xiǎn||very boring||spoken colloquially in Singaporean Mandarin instead of 无聊/闷 (in Standard Mandarin). The word "xian 显" originates from Hokkien 'hián-sèng' (顯聖).|
|敢敢||gǎn gǎn||be brave/daring||spoken colloquially in Singaporean Mandarin instead of 勇敢 (in Standard Mandarin). For instance, 敢敢做个开心人(dared to be a happy person – also the title for a Mediacorp Channel 8 sitcom). The word "敢敢" originates from Hokkien "káⁿ-káⁿ" (daring)|
|古早||gǔ zǎo||ancient||originates from Hokkien "kó͘-chá". Appears in some Singaporean Chinese writing (e.g. Hawker Center) instead of 古时候 (in Standard Mandarin).|
|做工||zuò gōng||work||originates from Hokkien "cho-kang", which means 'work'. 做工 is often spoken colloquially in Singaporean Mandarin instead of 工作/上班 (in Standard Mandarin). In Standard Mandarin, 做工 usually means doing work that involves manual hard labour.|
|烧||shāo||hot||originates from Hokkien "sio", which means 'hot'. 烧 is often spoken colloquially in Singaporean Mandarin instead of 热/烫 (in Standard Mandarin).|
|什么来的||shěn mè lái dě||What is this?||originates from Hokkien "siáⁿ-mi̍h lâi ê" (啥物來的). 什么来的 is often spoken colloquially in Singaporean Mandarin instead of the more formal 這是什麼 (in Standard Mandarin)|
|起价||qǐ jià||price increase||originates from Hokkien "khí-kè". 起價 is often spoken colloquially in Singaporean Mandarin instead of the more formal 涨价 (in Standard Mandarin)|
|做莫||zuò mò||Why? / Doing what?||originates from Cantonese 做咩 zou me. 做莫 (or 做么) is often spoken colloquially in Singaporean Mandarin instead of the more formal 爲什麽/做什麽 (in Standard Mandarin)|
|哇佬||wà láo||man!||Corruption of a vulgar Hokkien word|
|是乜||shì miē||is it?||The word 乜 mēh, more often rendered as 咩 (see above), originates from Cantonese and is used in colloquial Singaporean Mandarin. Compare Standard Mandarin 是嗎 shì ma.|
|大耳窿||dà ěr lóng||loan shark||originates from Cantonese. (compare Guoyu: 地下錢莊)|
|搭客||dā kè||passenger||originates from Cantonese. (compare Putonghua: 乘客)|
|摆乌龙||bǎi wū lóng||misunderstanding/make mistakes/confusion||originates from Cantonese.|
|好脸||hào liàn||boastful, likes to show off||originates from Teochew "ho lien" (好臉). Other than "likes to show off", the term can also describes someone who has a strong pride, i.e. cares about not losing face. (compare Putonghua: 爱出风头, Guoyu: 愛現)|
|粿条||guǒ tiáo||a type of flat noodle||originates from Teochew "kuey tiao" (粿條). Compare Cantonese "hor fan" (河粉)|
There is quite a number of specific words used in Singaporean Mandarin that originate or are transliterated from English. These words appear in written Singaporean Mandarin.
|摩多西卡||móduōxīkǎ||Motorcycle||Both 电单车 and 摩托车 are now more frequently used in Singaporean Mandarin|
|巴仙||bāxiān||Percentage||百分比 is standard|
In terms of standard written Mandarin in Singapore, the Singaporean Mandarin grammar is almost similar to that of Putonghua. However, the grammar of colloquial Singaporean Mandarin can differ from that of Putonghua as a result of influence from other varieties of Chinese, classical Chinese and English. Some of the local Singaporean Mandarin writings do exhibit certain local Singaporean features.
When speaking of minutes, colloquial Singaporean Mandarin typically uses the word 字 (zì), which represents a unit of 5 minutes. When referring to a number of hours (duration), 鐘頭 (zhōngtóu) is used instead of 小時 (xiǎoshí). For instance:
The use of zì (字) originates from Hokkien (jī or lī), Cantonese or Classical Chinese. Its origin came from the ancient Chinese units of measuring time. In ancient Chinese time measurement, hours were measured in terms of shíchén (時辰), equivalent to 2 hours while minutes were measured in terms of kè (刻), equivalent to 15 minutes. Each kè was in turn divided into 3 zì (equivalent to 5 minutes). For instance, 7:45 pm is:
As a result of Hokkien influence, colloquial Singaporean Mandarin typically uses the word "拜-" (bài) to refer to the days of the week, in lieu of Standard Mandarin "星期-" (xīngqí-). For instance:
Both 拜 (bài) and 礼拜 (lǐbài) originate from Hokkien pài and lé-pài respectively.
In colloquial Singaporean Mandarin, 万 (wàn), referring to a "ten thousand" is often used, but 十千 (shí qiān), referring to "ten thousands" is occasionally used too. This usage was influenced by English numbering system and also Chinese Indonesian who frequently uses large Indonesian currency, Rp10000 (0.71 USD) and above.
The word "先" (xiān) is often used at the end of a sentence in colloquial Singaporean Mandarin (instead of after a subject, as in Standard Mandarin), as a result of influence from Cantonese grammar. For example, take the sentence "You walk first":
而已 (éryǐ) is more common in colloquial Singaporean Mandarin than in Standard Mandarin, which uses 罢了 (bàle). While 而已 (éryǐ) is also used in colloquial Mandarin within Mainland China, but perhaps to a lesser extent as compared to Singapore or Taiwan. For example:
Translation: only like this / only this kind!
When people describe the size of animals, for example, chicken, these are used to mean 'small' 'large'. Putonghua tends to use "肥""瘦" instead. These two words are used to refer to the body frame of a person. "大只" refers to people who appear to be tall, masculine or with a large body build. "小只" is used to describe people with a small built, tiny frame.
In colloquial Singaporean Mandarin, the word "啊" is often used in response to a sentence as an affirmative. It is often pronounced as /ã/ (with a nasal tone) instead of 'ah' or 'a' (in Putonghua). Putonghua tends to use "是(的)/对啊/对呀" (shì (de)/duì a/duì ya)， "哦" (ó), "噢" (ō), "嗯" (en/ng) to mean "yes, it is".
In Singaporean Mandarin, there is a greater tendency to use the word cái "才" (then) in lieu of Standard Mandarin zài "再" (then), which indicates a future action after the completion of a prior action. For instance:
In Standard Mandarin, one typical way of turning certain nouns into adjectives, such as 兴趣 (xìngqù, 'interest'), 营养 (yíngyǎng, 'nutrition'), 礼貌 (lǐmào, 'politeness'), is to prefix the word "有" (yǒu) at the front of these nouns.
The word 有 (yǒu) is sometimes omitted in writing.
In Singaporean Mandarin, verbs preceding "一下" may be reduplicated, unlike in Putonghua. This practice is borrowed from the Malay and Indonesian method of pluralizing words. In Putonghua grammar, the use of the word "一下(儿)" (yīxià(r)) is often put at the back of a verb to indicate that the action (as indicated by the verb) is momentary.
Singaporean Colloquial Mandarin tends to use 被 (bèi) more often than Putonghua, due to influence from English and/or Malay. It is used to express a passive verb.
Compare the following:
Sometimes, colloquial Singaporean Mandarin might use intransitive verbs as transitive.
"进步" (improve) is an intransitive verb. But as influenced by the use of English, "I want to improve my Chinese" is sometimes said in Singaporean Mandarin as "我要进步我的华语". The standard Mandarin should be "我要让我的华语进步"
The phonology and tones of Singaporean Mandarin are generally similar to that of Standard Mandarin. There are 4 tones similar to those in Standard Mandarin, but Erhua (儿化, -er finals) and the neutral tone (轻声, lit. 'light tone') are generally absent in Singaporean Mandarin.
The earliest development of Singaporean Mandarin includes the old Beijing phonology (老国音), followed by new Beijing phonology (新国音) and then finally Hanyu Pinyin of mainland China. In its initial development, Singaporean Mandarin was highly influenced by the Ru sheng (入聲, checked tones or "5th tones") from other Chinese varieties. As such, the 5th tone did appear in earlier Singaporean Mandarin. The characteristics of the 5th tone are as follows:
However, due to years of putonghua influence, prevalence of the 5th tone in Singaporean Mandarin is declining. This means that the Singaporean Mandarin had inclined itself towards Standard Chinese.
Minor differences occur between the phonology (tones) of Standard Singaporean Mandarin and other forms of Standard Mandarin.
|Chinese character||Definition||Singapore||Mainland China||Taiwan||Notes|
|休息||Take a rest||xiūxí||xiūxi||xiūxí||The character 息 is pronounced with the 2nd tone in Standard Singaporean Mandarin, same as that in Taiwan. In Mainland China, 息 is pronounced with a neutral tone instead.|
|垃圾||Rubbish||lèsè/lājī||lājī||lèsè||The pronunciation for 垃圾, which was influenced by Wu Chinese, is the same in Singapore and Taiwan where the pronunciation from before 1949 is maintained. However, due to influence from Mainland China, the pronunciation is inclining itself towards Standard Chinese.|
|角色||Role||jiǎosè||juésè||jiǎosè/juésè||The pronunciation for 角色 is the same in Singapore and Taiwan where the pronunciation jiǎosè from before 1949 has been maintained. However, both juésè and jiǎosè can be used interchangeably in the Chinese-speaking world.|
|包括||Include||bāokuò||bāokuò||bāoguā/bāokuò||The pronunciation for 包括 is the same in Singapore and Mainland China.|
|血液||Blood||xuěyì||xuèyè/xuěyè||xiěyì/xiěyè||Singapore and Taiwan uses the literary pronunciation of both characters xuěyì from before 1949.|
Main article: Hokkien influence on Singaporean Mandarin
Just like any languages in Singapore, Singaporean Mandarin is subjected to influences from other languages spoken in Singapore.
Singaporean Hokkien is the largest non-Mandarin Chinese variety spoken in Singapore. The natural tendency of Hokkien-speakers to use the Hokkien way to speak Mandarin has influenced to a large degree the colloquial Mandarin spoken in Singapore. The colloquial Hokkien-style Singaporean Mandarin is commonly heard in Singapore, and can differ from Putonghua in terms of vocabulary, phonology and grammar.
Besides Singaporean Hokkien, Mandarin is also subjected to influence coming from other Chinese dialects such as Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka, and Hainanese, as well as English and Malay.
Main article: Singapore Chinese Characters
In Singapore, simplified Chinese characters are the official standard used in all official publications as well as the government-controlled press. While simplified Chinese characters are taught exclusively in schools, the government does not officially discourage the use of Traditional characters. Therefore, many shop signs continue to use Traditional characters.
As there is no restriction on the use of traditional characters in the mass media, television programmes, books, magazines and music CDs that have been imported from Hong Kong or Taiwan are widely available, and these almost always use Traditional characters. Most karaoke discs, being imported from Hong Kong or Taiwan, have song lyrics in Traditional characters as well. While all official publications are in simplified characters, the government still allows parents to choose whether to have their child's Chinese name registered in Simplified or Traditional characters though most choose the former.
Singapore had undergone three successive rounds of character simplification, eventually arriving at the same set of Simplified characters as the People's Republic of China. Before 1969, Singapore generally used Traditional characters. From 1969 to 1976, the Ministry of education launched its own version of Simplified characters, which differed from that of mainland China. But after 1976, Singapore fully adopted the Simplified characters of mainland China.
Before the May Fourth Movement in 1919, Singapore Chinese writings were based on Classical Chinese. After the May Fourth Movement, under the influence from the New Culture Movement in China, the Chinese schools in Singapore began to follow the new education reform as advocated by China's reformist and changed the writing style to Vernacular Chinese.
Singapore's Chinese newspaper had witnessed this change from Vernacular Chinese. Lat Pau (叻報), one of the earliest Chinese newspaper, was still using Classical Chinese in 1890. By 1917, it continued to use Classical Chinese. But by 1925, it had changed to Vernacular Chinese. After this, all Chinese newspaper in Singapore used Vernacular Chinese.
The development of the Singaporean Chinese literature reflected the history of immigrants in Singapore. When many Chinese writers from Southern China arrived in Singapore, they established Chinese schools, newspaper press etc. They contributed a lot to the development of Chinese literature in Singapore. In 1919, the New National Magazine 《新國民雜誌》 marked the birth of Singaporean Chinese literature. In those days, the migrant's mindset was still deeply entrenched. Many of the literary works were influenced by New Culture Movement. Most of the literary works that were published originated from the works of writers in China.
In 1925, the presence of literary supplements such as "Southern Wind" 《南風》, "Light of Singapore 《星光》" brought a new dimension to Singaporean Chinese literature. They differed from past magazine that relied on writers from China. It was at this time, that the thoughts of Nanyang began to surface the corner. In January 1927, the "Deserted Island" 《荒島》 published in the "New National Press" 《新國民日報》 clearly reflected the features of Nanyang in its literary work. The "localization" literary works mostly described the lifestyle in Nanyang, the people and their feelings in Nayang. The quality of Singaporean Chinese literature had greatly improved.
In 1937, the outbreak of Second Sino-Japanese War raised the anti-Japanese sentiment. The literature during these times reflected the missions of national salvation against the Japanese. This brought a halt to the localization movement and in turn re-enacted a sense of Chinese nationalism amongst the migrants in Singapore. From 1941 till 1945, during the Japanese occupation of Singapore, the activities for Chinese literature was halted.
After the war, people in Singapore began to have a sense of belonging to this piece of land, and they also had a desire for freedom and democracy. During this times, Singaporean Chinese literature was inclined towards Anti-colonialism. With new arts and thoughts, between 1947 – 1948, there was a debate between "Unique Singaporean Literary Art" and "literary thoughts of migrants". The results from these debated led to a conclusion that the Singaporean Chinese literature was going to develop on its own independently. The "localization" clearly marked the mature development of Singaporean Chinese literature.
During the 1950s, writers from Singapore drew their literary works mostly from the local lifestyle and events that reflected the lifestyle from all areas of the society. They also included many Chinese-dialect proverbs in their works. They created unique works of literature. Writers including Miao Xiu (苗秀), Yao Zhi (姚紫), Zhao Rong (趙戎), Shu Shu (絮絮) etc. represented the writers of "localization" works.
From 1960 to 1970, the number of literary works published began to increase. Locally-born and locally bred Singaporean writers became the new writers in the stage of Singaporean Chinese literature. Their works were mainly based on the views of Singaporeans towards issues or context happening in Singapore. They continued the "localization" movement and brought the Singaporean Chinese literature to a new dimension.
Main article: Xinyao
After the Speak Mandarin Campaign in 1979, all Chinese TV programs using other Chinese varieties were replaced by Mandarin programs. Singapore also started to broadcast Mandopop. The birth of Xinyao during the 1980s injected a new life to the creation of lyrics for Mandopop in Singapore. Singapore radios also began to have Singapore Billboards (新加坡龍虎榜) for Mandopop. This allowed Singapore to be developed into a major center for Mandopop in South East Asia. There were also many Mandopop artist coming from Singapore such as Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin, Tanya Chua, etc.
Main article: Peking opera
Main article: List of films set in Singapore
Main article: Channel 8 (Singaporean TV channel)
At the moment, there are 2 television channels with news bulletin programmes in Chinese.
|News Programs||Aired Timing|
|Weekdays; 9.00am – 9.30am|
|News 8 at 1
|Weekdays; 1.00pm – 1.30pm|
|Weekends; 6.30pm – 7.00pm [Singapore:Asia]|
|Weekdays; 6.30pm – 7.30pm |
Highlights edition: Weekdays; 7.30am – 8.00am
|Daily; 10.00pm – 10.30pm (Channel 8, live) |
Daily; 11.00pm – 11.30pm (Channel U, recorded)
Daily; 7.00am – 7.30am (Channel 8, encore)
Runtime may be extended by at least 15 minutes due to Parliament highlights or special events such as the Olympics
|Former News Programs||Replaced Programs|
|News Club @ 7 周末新闻俱乐部||—|
|News Jab @ 9 9点新闻||—|
|News 8 at 10 10点新闻
News World @ 11 11点新闻
|News Tonight 晚间新闻|
|Good Morning Singapore 早安您好||Morning Express 晨光第一线|
Language plays an important role in Singapore politics. Up to today, it is still important for politicians in Singapore to be able to speak their mother tongue (and even other dialects) fluently in order to reach out to the multilingual community in Singapore.
According to observation, an election candidate who is able to speak fluent Mandarin has a higher chance of winning an election. As such, most election candidates will try to use Mandarin in campaign speeches in order to attract Mandarin-speaking voters.
Some Chinese elites in Singapore had criticized that the Mandarin standard of Chinese Singaporean has dropped greatly due to the closure or subsequent conversion of Chinese-medium schools to English-medium schools in the 1980s. Others attributed the drop in standard to the lack of learning Chinese literature in schools.
Ever since 1965 when Singapore became independent, bilingual policy has become the pillar of Singapore's education. The first language of Singapore was English, while Mandarin was chosen as the "mother tongue" of Chinese Singaporean. Generally, most Chinese Singaporean can speak Mandarin fluently, but are usually weaker in writing Chinese.
In recent years, with the subsequent economic rise of mainland China and a transition from a world factory to a world market, Mandarin has become the 2nd most influential language after English. Besides transmitting Chinese culture values, many people began to realize the economic values of Mandarin, which has raised the interests of local and working professionals in learning Mandarin.
The native mother tongue of Chinese Singaporeans are of various non-mandarin Chinese varieties, such as Hokkien, Teochew or Cantonese. This was certainly true when southern Chinese migrants came to Singapore. However, with the Speak Mandarin campaign, Chinese Singaporeans were encouraged to change their home language from these other varieties to Mandarin, and then later from Mandarin to English. Mandarin was designated as the "mother tongue" of all Chinese Singaporeans in Singapore and all other native Chinese varieties were reduced to the "dialect" status, with no official recognition as a proper language.
In recent years, however, there has been an increasing awareness of topolect preservation, due to the great decline in the use of other Chinese varieties in Singapore. Most young Chinese Singaporeans were unable to speak these languages effectively and were thus unable to communicate with their grandparents, who are more fluent in them. This has caused a language barrier between generations. As such, there is a minority of Singaporeans working to help preserve or spread these forgotten languages in Singapore.
Under the bilingual policy of Singapore, Chinese Singaporeans had a greater chance to speak and use English especially in school and at work. But this can cause a relative limitation in the use of mother tongue. Generally speaking, most Chinese Singaporeans are able to speak Mandarin, and also read newspapers in it, but only a minority is able to use it at a professional level such as academic research, literary writing etc. In the endeavor to use English, some Chinese Singaporeans even distanced themselves from the mother tongue culture, resulting in the erosion of Chinese culture in Singapore.
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