‘I Hate the Singlish Accent’

Singlish is a variety of English that has its own unique grammar, vocabulary, and expressions. It’s different to British or American English but it is not in fact incorrect English. It has it’s own rules and people do not speak that way just because they have not been educated properly. They speak that way because that variety of English evolved in Malaysia, from a different group of people.

It’s wrong to think about Singlish as being wrong English. However, on a personal level, it may not be right for you to speak with a Singlish accent. The reason I say this is because some accents and ways of speaking can hold you back in life. Let me explain. It may be normal to have a Singlish accent if you are from Singapore, however that does not mean that you should also speak with this accent. What accent you decide to have depends on what you want to do with your life and the things you want to achieve.

In Singapore people may not negatively judge you for having a Singlish accent because this is normal there. However, if you wanted to work in the USA or the UK your accent would be a problem for you. People who don’t know about accent would think that you can’t speak English properly. They would think that you make mistakes when talking English. They would not realise that you are speaking a different, but closely related, variety of English with its own grammar rules.

Even native English speakers from the UK and USA are judged by their accent. You could even say that as native speakers we are judged more harshly. In England especially, the accent you have can really limit your success and the things you can achieve in life. For example, it’s hard to imagine that someone with a cockney accent could possibly become a top barrister in England without first changing the way they speak. Some doors will never be open to you unless you change the way you speak. However, when you change the way you speak, it’s inevitable that you will also leave some people behind.

If you decide to speak with an English or American accent, even though your are from Singapore, you can understand why the people around you don’t like this. That’s because family and friends don’t usually like to see you change. They might see your decision to speak differently to everyone else as a sign of snobbery. They might also indirectly feel criticized by you – as if you are saying that to speak like them isn’t good enough for you. Perhaps they even think that your accent is fake and that you’re being high and mighty.

Sometimes you need to change the way you speak so that you can move towards the things you want in life. If you have decided that having any accent is right for you, then you should stay firm in your decision. You don’t need to follow the crowd and behave in the same way as everyone else. However, when you make that decision to be different, you have to know that it comes with a price. Some of the people in your life may not approve of the way you speak or have changed.

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