By Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew
'Pulau Panjan', 'Po Luo Chung', 'Pulau Ujong', 'Lung –ya-men', 'Temasek', 'Singapura' are all former names of Singapore and belie its colourful historical past because the El-Dorado and nexus of Southeast Asia. Who have been Singapore's earlier multilingual population? What have been the pidgins, creoles and languages that thronged its marketplace areas and created its forgotten identities? How did polyglot migrants stuck within the throes of an previous globalization arrange their respective identities? What hybrid identities arose from such cross-cultural interactions? This booklet provides a desirable background of early identities in Singapore as tested in the course of the retrospective lens of language. a protracted view has been selected for its virtue in delivering unforeseen socio-political and linguistic insights into the long run results of switch and continuity.
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Extra resources for A Sociolinguistic History of Early Identities in Singapore: From Colonialism to Nationalism
Ethnic and occupational compartmentalization A significant characteristic of the “founder” of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles’ town planning was the creation of enclave structures through the division and demarcation of living spaces on the basis of ethnicities. In 1822, a committee was appointed which marked out the quarters or departments of the population (Stockwell, 1998: 340; Widodo, 2009). Indeed, within three years from the establishment of Singapore in 1819, the population was “rationally” described as follows: “the Chinese on the south-west of the river, the Bugis on the spot beyond the residence of the Sultan in Kampong Glam, the Chuliahs (Indians) up the Singapore River, and the Arabs in Kampong Glam ...
Such syncretism is not normally regarded as contradictory as these religions are perceived as complementary rather than competing. 7 Racial Identities: Plurality in the Making 27 Education and identity In colonial Singapore, multiple schooling systems were created to meet what was diagnosed to be the different needs of the ethnic-linguistic groups. 8 This section discusses Malay-, Chinese-, Tamil- and English-medium education and their respective contributions to a racially-minded identity. Malay-medium schools The Malays were the only racial group provided free elementary education by the British, who were themselves influenced by a paternal and humanitarian sense of obligation to protect and preserve what they viewed was the way of life of the “rightful” people.
16 It was not surprising to find that a significant number of children who attended such schools were subsequently converted to Christianity (cf. Yap, 1982). Singhalese Frederick Talalle (quoted in Arseculeratne, 1992: 166) admitted that those who went to Christian missionary schools were the first to convert: “There were no Buddhist schools, so automatically we became Anglicans ... ” Here, one notes that religious affiliation helped reinforced diverse subgroup identities within the Singhalese community (as in other communities), not least because the Singhalese who were Christians spoke in English while those who were Buddhist tended to speak in Singhalese.