Singapore English: A semantic and cultural perspective

Anna Wierzbicka

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper examines some aspects of Singapore English, raising questions about Singaporean culture and national identity, and, more generally, about the nature of links between language and culture in a multilingual, heterogeneous, and rapidly changing society. It argues that Singapore English is grounded in Singapore experience; in doing so, it takes up the notion of 'interculturality', proposed by the Singapore linguist Ho Chee Lick. Using the 'Natural Semantic Metalanguage', developed by the author and colleagues, and based on empirically established universal human concepts, the paper offers a detailed semantic analysis of a number of Singaporean 'key words', and shows how their meaning reflects the unique Singaporean experience. The detailed semantic analysis of these 'key words', and of some other aspects of Singapore English, leads the author to posit some Singaporean 'cultural scripts', also formulated in universal human concepts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)327-366
    Number of pages40
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    Dive into the research topics of 'Singapore English: A semantic and cultural perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this