SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

The changing language worlds of Singapore

Francesco Cavallaro (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Date: 20 February 2018Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 20 February 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Seminar


With active language planning policies in force since its independence as a nation, the linguistic situation in Singapore has undergone dramatic changes in its 50 years of history. A number of linguistic issues have arisen as a result of these policies. These include a rapid shift in the languages used by Singaporeans to English only and the demise of the Chinese vernaculars. This presentation tracks the changing repertoire of Singaporeans across the three main ethnic groups over the last 50 years and makes projections of language needs and practices in the decades to come. The presentation will describe the language policies, planning and implementation in Singapore and discuss the impact of such policies. This presentation draws data from past and ongoing research on the attitudes and use of the varieties of English; on the maintenance and shift of the non-English official languages of Singapore; and the marginalization of elderly Chinese Singaporeans.  

About the speaker

Francesco Cavallaro is an Associate Professor in the Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has worked at various universities in Australia and he is now living and working in Singapore. His research interests are in sociolinguistics and the social aspects of bilingualism, especially of minority groups in multilingual contexts. He has published on language maintenance and shift, the demographics of the Italian community in Australia, language attitudes in Singapore and on minority groups in South East Asia. He is the author of the book Transgenerational language shift: From Sicilian and Italian to Australian English, published in 2010 by The Italian Australian Institute. La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. His main research focus is the survival of minority languages and the factors that influence both language maintenance and shift.