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The Speaker Series Presents, Dr. Peter Siemund

Date & Time:
October 3, 2017 | 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
CHD 419
Peter Siemund, University of Hamburg

From multilingualism to bilingualism: Singaporean students’ language repertoires and attitudes
Speaker: Peter Siemund, University of Hamburg

Singapore has received a large amount of scholarly interest with regards to the structural and sociolinguistic properties of its local variety of English. In contrast, there is comparatively less empirical data on individual linguistic repertoires and usage patterns. Building on previous research into the linguistic and sociological background of young Singaporean adults, our study examines 450 students recruited from three distinct educational institutions: a university, polytechnics, and vocational training schools. A detailed language background questionnaire reveals the degree of multilingualism, patterns of language use, as well as language attitudes towards different languages. The data suggest that the notion of the typically multilingual Singaporean needs to be challenged: bilingualism and trilingualism are more widespread than more multilingual repertoires. Students also report generally positive attitudes towards both English and their mother tongue; attitudes towards the vernacular (Singlish) are also generally positive, as Singlish evidently continues to serve as an important marker of Singaporean identity. We find important differences between the three student cohorts examined here and are able to relate them to their social and ethnic backgrounds.

Leimgruber, Jakob, Peter Siemund and Laura Terassa (submitted) ‘From multilingualism to bilingualism: Singaporean students’ language repertoires and attitudes’. World Englishes.