By Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew
What position does race, geography, faith, orthography and nationalism play within the crafting of identities? What are the origins of Singlish? This ebook bargains a radical research of outdated and new identities in Asia's such a lot international urban, tested during the lens of language.
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Additional resources for A Sociolinguistic History of Early Identities in Singapore: From Colonialism to Nationalism
As with other colonial ports such as Colombo, Hong Kong and Guyana, it was a period where the majority of the populace were illiterate and those who could read and write in English belonged to the class who with the overt help of the media played a prominent part in society. This section displays representative snippets of print by the literati, who were mainly Caucasian government officials, journalists, planters and travel writers. Then (as is the case today – see Chapter 10), the “other” was often constructed one-dimensionally and there was a tendency to sort people into categories, placing discriminatory values on them.
We think no more of sleeping – we turn and twist in bed We hate Celestials with a deadly hate. We wish that every Chinaman were hanged and drawn and dead, Then morning – and the sound and stink abate. ” Everything is seen from the racial lens and his description is reminiscent of a biologist who has recently discovered a new species. One chapter may suffice as a typical example. In the description of the “Chinese Towkay” (Chinese businessman), Robson has this to say: “wonderful adaptability”, “thoroughly conversant with European thought and ideas; he can speak Chinese, but finds it easier to think in Malay and, if he can write, it is as likely as not to be in English, and very good handwriting too”, “wears big diamond ring”, “his nail grows to an inch or more – especially at the little finger” (Robson, 1894: 18).
4 Writing for the colonial administrators and residents, prospective colonial travellers and other readers in English, he Racial Identities: Plurality in the Making 23 describes the people mostly by way of appearance, for example, “the Balinese are very much like the Malays, but slighter in built, taller and more agile. ” In the same vein, the Portuguese Pierre d’Avity in 1615 refers to “the exoticism of the Malays” as well as to the fact that they were “both murderers and passionate authors of romantic songs and poems” (cited by Gulliver, 2009: 9).
A Sociolinguistic History of Early Identities in Singapore: From Colonialism to Nationalism by Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew