Voice of the MRT on Accents and Singlish

I found this video on another American in Singapore’s blog.  She was doing a post on the voice behind the MRT announcements which was really neat.  Seeing the person behind the MRT voice was entertaining, but I also appreciated the first part of the video.

She makes it clear that she doesn’t approve of the taking on of accents to (I assume) try to impress people.  She also doesn’t approve of Singlish.  She thinks Singaporeans should speak clear, concise English and allow a mixed, natural accent to develop.  I agree.  The Singaporean accent should be a unique blend of the accents already present in the country, but it shouldn’t be a butchery of the English language either.

A few weeks ago, I made the observation that some foreigners tend to want to take on a Singaporean accent when they get to Singapore, because they think it’ll make them more international, or look more impressive to their peers and family / friends back in their own country.  I also noted how it instead just makes them look ridiculous.

I guess the same could be said for Singaporeans who try to take on foreign accents.  One commenter made the following comment on this YouTube video:


She means a foereign accent. We’re Singaporean, our accent is British influenced but it’s not distinctly British either. Our newscasters sometimes speak with American accents which bothers me sometimes.

I agree that it’s ridiculous. I’ve said it before, though I can’t remember where, that Singaporeans should just speak and allow their natural accent to develop.  Developing a unique Singaporean accent is part of the nation building process and will help create a unique Singaporean identity.

4 thoughts on “Voice of the MRT on Accents and Singlish”

  1. I think you'll find that most people look down on what they consider the butchery of their native language. I've been in Singapore long enough to be able to distinguish the words that are used most often, but in reality I'm not learning Singlish, I'm learning Hokkien, a bit of Malay and a bit of Tamil.Do what makes you happy though. This is only my opinion.


  2. I'm tired of debating, like everyone else, whether Singlish is a positive thing (it is! IMO), but whatever. All I'll say is this: I LOVE how most foreigners can't decipher it. Sure, it's not a real language like German/French, but I found it really amusing how my German-Italian classmate once came up to me & M'sian friend while we were having a conversation & asked us with an incredulous face, WTF were we speaking & she's never heard anything like it before.


  3. Well, certainly the “lahs”, “lehs”, and all the other Hokkien slang should be left out, because that's obviously not English, but Singaporeans shouldn't try to use another country's accent. They should use their own. It's almost as if they're embarrassed by the way they talk when they just speak regular English.


  4. Perhaps, there's this idea where speaking good English means not mentioning the “lahs” and the “lehs” and speaking with an American or British accent.


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