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What advantages' disadvantages might there be in having such linguistic repertoires in the context of globalization?

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Introduction

Socialinguistics suggest that in any community there are distinguishable varieties available and these are used in different social contexts. What advantages' disadvantages might there be in having such linguistic repertoires in the context of globalization? The term 'variety' refers to any set of linguistic forms which patterns according to social factors i.e. language in context. It can be used under specific social circumstances (Holmes, 2001, p. 6). The range of varieties from which people select in monolingual communities takes the form of different styles and dialects. In a bilingual or multilingual community e.g. Singapore, it takes also the form of different languages, depending on the participants, setting, topic and function. A speaker may use different varieties for different domains such as at home, towards friends, in church, or at work. In an informal setting, one usually uses the low variety than the standard or high variety. E.g. in a class gathering, a Singaporean usually speaks CSE (Colloquial Singapore English) instead of SSE (Singapore Standard English), which is normally spoken in a formal setting. Thus, no one uses the high variety in daily conversations (Holmes, 2001, p.27). As globalization takes place, there are inevitable worries that the languages and cultures of minority groups may be displaced by more dominant languages and their cultures. Yet on the other hand, globalization sets a new purpose for others. ...read more.

Middle

This helps people to resist the pressure to switch to the dominant language. In Malaysia, the English language is perceived to be serving the interests of the Chinese and Indians. Thus, they established Bahasa Malaysia as the new international language. The introduction of Bahasa Malaysia is not just a rejection of the colonial language, but also an attempt to redistribute cultural and economic power within Malaysia. Unfortunately, economic globalization makes it increasingly difficult to prevent the spread of English and to discourage the natural desire of parents and students for an English education. There is inevitable concern that the Bahasa language policy is threatening the Malays to lose their position when they enter the job market where having the knowledge of English is essential (Goodman and Graddol, 1996, p. 204). English is not a killer to major languages and language shift tends to be slower among communities where the minority language is highly valued. When the language is seen as an important symbol of ethnic identity, it is generally maintained longer (Holmes, 2001, p. 61). In Malaysia's case, Bahasa Malaysia is a major language and is highly valued by her people as a symbol of her ethnicity. Thus, it will not be easily displaced by English despite the growing dominance and influence of English. In Singapore, English is the most frequently selected code for official transaction regardless of the speaker's ethnicity. ...read more.

Conclusion

CSE is just another variety of World English among many others. We must avoid creating a monocultural world since English is the lingua franca in most countries. It is also important for Singaporeans to learn the basics of their mother tongue well. In Singapore, all pupils have to take their ethnic language as a compulsory subject in primary school. The government has also been very supportive towards Singaporeans speaking their mother tongue e.g. promoting the use of Mandarin through "Speaking Mandarin Campaign". Rapid shift occurs when people are anxious to "get on" in a society where knowledge of the second language is a prerequisite for success. Malaysia and Singapore will not be at a losing edge since the government sees an important reason for learning the mother tongue language and are taking active steps to maintain their ethnic language. In view of globalization, English now emerges as the language of the world and its use as a cultural symbol will likely continue. We need English as a gateway to the world but it should not control our lives. Language is an important symbol of a country's identity. Thus, it is crucial to treasure the languages and cultures of its people to foster intergroup understanding. Globalization is not a bad thing after all if there is institutional support and positive attitude towards preserving the usage of the various varieties. Through communal efforts, it is possible for us to tap on the uses of English and at the same time, preserve the varieties available in our communities. ...read more.

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