INDIAN FT COLLEAGUE SAYS S'POREAN ENGLISH IS NOT UP TO STANDARD?

Hi A.S.S.,

Just want to ask the opinion of everyone.

I am working for a multinational company in the banking sector. So unfortunately I have to deal with a lot of foreign colleagues in my office, who are obviously soooo much better than Singaporeans for some reason that I can't understand. But never mind that.

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In my work, I try to maintain a very professional image. I always speak clear and concise English, write good emails with punctuation and proper grammar, and pay extra attention that I don't use Singlish in front of foreigners because they probably wouldn't be able to understand or relate to the language anyway.

But one day, while I was in my manager's office, this north Indian colleague - let's call him G - was also with me and complaining about the "unintelligible" way that Singaporean employees speak. I was naturally very surprised because I thought that there was no problems with the way that me and my Singaporean colleagues pronounce our words, granted that sometimes we let loose with a bit of "lar" and "lor".

According to G, he can't understand why we have to shorten the syllables of each word we pronounce, and says that we're like robots when we speak. In fact, he says we speak as if we were speaking in Mandarin and it's not the "proper" way to speak good British English.

I couldn't tell if he was being serious or joking, so I asked him whether we should speak more like the Indians and roll their "r"s and maybe add in more exaggerated intonation into our words.

He suddenly became very serious and said that I should not say such things and told me he was offended. I was shocked and quite angry at him for being such a hypocrite. You can talk about Singaporean English but now we cannot talk about them? This is double standards!

So I made it clear that I had no intent to insult their way of speaking and pointed out that he had broached the subject. At this point the manager walked in and we ended the conversation on that note. Now G is giving me the cold shoulder and possibly spreading nasty words about me behind my back. What a load of bull.

Wai Choong
A.S.S. Contributor

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