Languages of Singapore
There are many languages spoken in Singapore. The reason is that Singapore has a multi-ethnic society. The Singapore government recognises four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. The national language is Malay, while English is mainly used as the business and working language. The colloquial patois spoken on the streets is a creole called Singlish amongst the locals, but is also known amongst academics in linguistics as Singapore Colloquial English.
English as working language[change | change source]
English was introduced to Singapore by the British in 1819, when the British established a port, later a colony, on the island. English had been the administrative language of the colonial government, and when Singapore gained self-government in 1959 and independence in 1965, the local government decided to keep English as the working language. The use of English as a common language serves to bridge the gap between the diverse ethnic groups in Singapore.
Bilingualism[change | change source]
As a result, most Singaporeans have at least conversational ability and basic literacy in a minimum of two languages, while many more are conversant in three or more languages, English, their assigned Mother Tongue, and the language that is used at home.
|Language most frequently spoken at home (%)|
|Other Chinese Languages||39.6||23.8|
Other languages[change | change source]
A handful of Portuguese Eurasians still speak a Portuguese-creole known as Papia Kristang. The most fluent speakers however, come from the pre-war generation.