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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 heritage 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 industry areas and created its forgotten identities? How did polyglot migrants stuck within the throes of an past globalization arrange their respective identities? What hybrid identities arose from such cross-cultural interactions? This publication provides a desirable heritage of early identities in Singapore as tested throughout 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 swap and continuity.

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Extra info for A Sociolinguistic History of Early Identities in Singapore: From Colonialism to Nationalism

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Religion also reinforced the language, caste and regional distinctions already inherent in the Indian community. Maiden Nagore, a clerk who migrated to Singapore in 1920 at the age of seven, recollects: The (Indian) Muslims had shops in Arab Street, Market Street and Chulia Street. The Tamil Hindus were labourers, newspaper vendors, tally clerks, foremen, hospital attendants, bus drivers and contractors. The Tamils (Hindus) ate thosai, idali and appam for breakfast. The (Indian) Muslims sold prathas at Tanjong Pagar and Serangoon Road.

What is the meaning of the syllabus Tji with which all the names here begin? Oh I do-on’t know. I sink it means pless. Yes, I sink zo. Pleis, town like as de English town in de namen Stock-town, Darling-town and Norzamp-town. I sink it means dat. O-yes! : 174). Reith’s rather confident depiction may be seen as representative of the then Victorian conviction between a nation’s language (the way a language should be written and/or pronounced) and its effects on the morals of a person. Census taking The census, acknowledged widely as a scientific and objective instrument, played a part in legitimating linguistic and racial differences between the ruler and the ruled.

Accounts of the racial-religious riots of 1964 and 1965 appear as a staple in sociological studies on multiculturalism, for example, Kong and Tong (2003); Lai (2006) and Aljunied (2009). Pereira (2003) depicts Singapore as a place of “triads and riots”, secret societies identified by numbers and symbols, ethnic and dialectal in origin. Turnbull (1996: 131) described Singapore in the 1920s as “the Chicago of the East ... ” Aljunied (2009) has recounted how Malay and Indian Muslims took to the streets and attacked Europeans and Eurasians indiscriminately during the Maria Hertogh Riots of 1950.

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