Languages of Singapore facts for kids
There are many languages spoken in Singapore. The reason is that Singapore has a multi-ethnic society. The Singapore government recognises four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. The national language is Malay, while English is mainly used as the business and working language. The colloquial patois spoken on the streets is a creole called Singlish amongst the locals, but is also known amongst academics in linguistics as Singapore Colloquial English.
English as working language
English was introduced to Singapore by the British in 1819, when the British established a port, later a colony, on the island. English had been the administrative language of the colonial government, and when Singapore gained self-government in 1959 and independence in 1965, the local government decided to keep English as the working language. The use of English as a common language serves to bridge the gap between the diverse ethnic groups in Singapore.
As a result, most Singaporeans have at least conversational ability and basic literacy in a minimum of two languages, while many more are conversant in three or more languages, English, their assigned Mother Tongue, and the language that is used at home.
|Language most frequently spoken at home (%)|
|Other Chinese Languages||39.6||23.8|
There are around 5,000 Peranakans living on the island, and they still use the Hokkien-influenced Malay dialect called Baba Malay.
A handful of Portuguese Eurasians still speak a Portuguese-creole known as Papia Kristang. The most fluent speakers however, come from the pre-war generation.
Images for kids
A warning sign in the four official languages of Singapore that is found in all Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations
Road signs to the Buddhist Burmese Temple and the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. The non-English languages used on the signs appear to depend upon the expected visitors to each place (only English and Chinese for the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall sign, but those two plus Japanese and Burmese for the Burmese Buddhist Temple sign).
Languages of Singapore Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.