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 prior 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 booklet offers a desirable background of early identities in Singapore as tested during the retrospective lens of language. an extended view has been selected for its virtue in supplying unforeseen socio-political and linguistic insights into the longer term results of switch and continuity.

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

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To summarize, a sociolinguistic history of Singapore enables us opportunities to observe not just code-choice, but also code-switching and code-mixing in a globalized environment (Fill, 2007). While the censuses are adept in capturing larger and more superficial characteristics such as “race”, only a linguistic analysis of Introduction 15 languages spoken is able to reveal the true diversity of each racial category. For example, Chapter 3 shows that the “Malay” race is not as the census might assume, homogeneous.

15 As early as 1673, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple in Malacca served as the political headquarters of the Kapitan Cina of the Chinese community. This was also the case with the Guanyin Temple established in 1800 in Penang and the Thian Hock Kheng established in 1839 in Singapore (Frost, 2003). These temples (and clan associations) helped alleviate the state of anomie that new immigrants often experienced by reproducing the linguistic practices and cultural norms that they were familiar with (Teo, 2010).

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.

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