Singapore is one of the top tourist destinations in Asia today. With different tourist attractions, local foods and activities to do, many people travel and visit the country to try it. The experience can be fun and unforgettable! Being prepared and knowledgeable about your stay here will make your experience even better.
If you are a first-timer who is searching for some facts to keep in mind when visiting Singapore, you’ll know that different languages are spoken in Singapore. Yes, there are a total of four official or national languages that are being used in Singapore.
It is English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Mandarin, Tamil and Malay are mother tongues that are used by the respective ethnicities in the country as a second language while English is used as the first language. With Chinese Singaporeans making up majority of the population, it has become easier to learn the Chinese language in Singapore.
A Brief History
In the 1800s, many Chinese migrants enter Singapore and since then, the number of Chinese Singaporeans increased immensely. Since then, the government had started to take effort and promoted Mandarin to Singaporean Chinese. They have viewed this as a bridge to connect the diversity of Singapore people to mandarin speaking groups. It creates a perfect bridge to the language barrier and connect each people to one another.
In 1979, the Singaporean government had started the Speak Mandarin Campaign to reach out to more people and get them to speak the language. According to then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the Mandarin language was chosen to unify and connect the Chinese communities to one another. They need to use one language to easily understand each other. With those efforts, Mandarin today is a way to maintain the culture of Chinese people in Singapore.
English is a main language in Singapore and is being used widely in public areas, which makes it easier for tourists to communicate with the locals and get what they need. However, Mandarin has been proven to be the common language used by Singaporeans at home. Today, many people from the older generation still depend on their mother tongues like Mandarin to communicate. In schools, it is also compulsory to study a student’s mother tongue and Mandarin is one of them.
Chinese terms and characters can also be different in Singapore. Simplified characters are the one being used widely in the country and is often recognized in documents. As you pass by signs, advertisements and Chinese food menus, especially on tourist destinations, you can find that they are written in simplified Chinese instead of traditional Chinese. The books that are being published in Singapore are mostly of simplified Chinese as well.
Learning Chinese is considered essential in the way of living in Singapore. To communicate better with the elderly and have a more closely knitted relationship with Singaporeans, it is a good idea to pick up the Chinese language.