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Language Norms In A Multiethnic Society: Singapore

            A multiethnic nation such as Singapore, the uses of languages are constantly changing and will never be fixed. In Singapore there are only 2.5 million people on a small island in the South Pacific. In this multiethnic nation there are over 30 mother tongues and 20 with a thousand speakers or more. Singapore recognizes four official languages, Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English(Borkhorst-Heng 287). At the time of independence these four languages were given official status, but the first three represented Singapore's rich multiethnic traditions, but English was chosen because of Singapore's important position as a trading nation. These four languages each play an important role in Singaporean society and hold their own status. The uses of these languages in the home, in the school, in government, and in religion differ vastly among these domains The role that these languages play along with what domain that these languages are used in will be discussed. .
             Language in the Home .
             As in other multiethnic states the languages spoken in the home can vary depending on the ethnicity of the citizen. There are many different languages spoken in the home but it varies from household to household. According to the author, "English has had the central role of enabling multilingual members of a community to be the social brokers in bridging the communicative gaps in cross-cultural communication"(Foley 220). This may be one reason why over the last fifteen years researchers have seen a large increase in the use of English in the home. For example, in 1980 only 11.6% of the population considered English as the dominant language of the home but by 1990 over 20% felt English was the more dominant language in their home. However this does not mean that all in the household used English but more so a form of code-switching between English and their mother tongue. But overall if there is an increase in one language there must be a decrease in another.

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