Charting the endonormative stabilization of Singapore English

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The use of nativized multi-word verbal combinations (MVCs) such as discuss about, emphasize on and raise up is a characteristic of Singapore English (SgE) that has attracted much criticism from proponents of the standard language ideology in Singapore. In spite of this, these features have continued to prevail in SgE. Using a corpus-based approach, the present study demonstrates that nativized MVCs are relatively widespread, occurring in all six registers represented in the Singapore component of the International Corpus of English (ICE-SIN), and even in the most formal register of printed texts. Although not as common as their standard single-word variants (e.g., discuss, emphasize and raise) and dispreferred in careful language use, data from ICE-SIN show that these features occur in stable syntactic environments, and are assigned specific grammatical functions and structural characteristics that clearly define them. The fact that they can be found even in the most formal of text categories, such as parliamentary debates, legal cross-examinations, legal presentations, broadcast news, examination scripts and academic writing, suggests a need for the reevaluation of links between adherence to native-speaker norms, and user and uses variables (e.g., education level and social class of the speaker, and formality of the domain). Further, it suggests that these features have been institutionalized in SgE, or in Winford’s (2003) terminology, ‘conventionalized as part of the communal grammar’ of the language (p. 236). This chapter argues that they are structural and distributional manifestations of the stabilization of nativized MVCs in SgE.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunicating with Asia
Subtitle of host publicationThe Future of English as a Global Language
EditorsGerhard Leitner, Azirah Hashim, Hans-Georg Wolf
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781107477186
ISBN (Print)9781107062610
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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