Singapore Country Guide

Talk

 
 

English
Malay may be enshrined in Singapore's Constitution as the national language but in practice the most common language is English, spoken by almost every Singaporean under the age of 50 with varying degrees of fluency. English is spoken much better in Singapore than in many other Asian countries.
The language of business and government in Singapore is English and written using the British spelling.

 
 
 
 
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Central Business District, Singapore

Central Business District

Singlish
However, the distinctive local English patois known as Singlish is often heard. It may be hard to understand at times, as it incorporates slang words and phrases from other languages including various Chinese dialects, Malay and Tamil as well as English words whose pronunciation or meaning have been corrupted. Additionally, it has an odd way of structuring sentences, due to the original speakers being mostly Chinese.

Thanks to nationwide language education campaigns, most younger Singaporeans are capable of speaking what the government calls "good English" when necessary. Singaporeans will usually speak Singlish with other Singaporeans under informal circumstances or between friends. Under formal circumstances or with foreigners, Singaporeans will speak or at least try to speak standard English.

Chinese
Chinese Mandarin is spoken by most younger Singaporean Chinese and taught to Chinese students in school.
Various Chinese dialects (mainly Hokkien, though significant numbers also speak Teochew and Cantonese) are also spoken between ethnic Chinese of the same dialect group. However, their use has been declining among the younger generation since the 1980s due to government policies discouraging the use of dialects in favour of Mandarin.

The official Chinese script used in Singapore is the simplified script used in mainland China. As such, all official publications (including local newspapers) and signs are in simplified Chinese and all ethnic Chinese are taught to write the simplified script in school. However, the older generations still prefer the traditional style, and the popularity of Hong Kong and Taiwanese pop culture means that even the youth can usually read traditional Chinese.

Bugis Junction, Singapore

Bugis Junction

Other Languages
Singapore's other official languages are Malay and Tamil. Malay is spoken by the Malay community and Tamil by the Tamil Indians, who form the majority of the Indian community. Other
Indian languages
such as Punjabi and Hindi are spoken by other Indian sub-groups but are not Singapore's official languages.
 
Singapore
Country Guide

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Boat Quay
Chinatown
City Hall
Clarke Quay
Marina Bay
Mustafa Centre
North Bridge Road
Orchard Road
Sentosa Island
Suntec City

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