The official languages of Singapore



The official languages of Singapore are English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. The national language is Malay, and the national anthem, ¨Majula Singapura¨, is sung in this language. This mix of linguistic cultures means communication is a cosmopilitan affair.

Expatriates living in Singapore may have trouble communicating at first, even though the most widely used language is English. Singaporean English is based on British English, as Singapore was once a British colony, but does have some American influences. Once children started to learn English in school, it became the common communication medium for people of different linguistic backgrounds. When Singapore gained its independence in 1965, the use of English became even more popular. English is now the language used in business and the education system, and it is also the most common language in Singaporean literature. However, almost all Singaporeans speak more than one language, with some people speaking three or four languages.

Most Singaporeans speak a localized dialect of English called Singlish or Singaporean English, which can be difficult for foreigners to understand at first. Singlish is based on standard English with influences and loan words from Chinese, Malay and Indian languages. Singapore is a multilingual society, which is why Singlish developed over time. Singlish phrases are most common in the informal aspects of the English language, such as casual conversation. In school, every student learns English and a second language of their choice. Mandarin is the second most popular language, with over 70% of the population speaking it as a first or second language.

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