Derogatory Singlish term part of our history

Those who signed the petition to remove "Chinese helicopter" from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) are missing the bigger picture ("Petition to drop derogatory Singlish term from OED"; last Saturday). If the term is to be removed because it is degrading and insulting, then, words such as "blur" and "sotong" should be removed too, as they can also be considered derogatory.

The argument that having "Chinese helicopter" in the dictionary would give the impression that it is acceptable is illogical - there are countless other terms in the dictionary that are also socially unacceptable.

While I agree that those who coined the term may have been ignorant and arrogant, the fact remains that such a term did indeed exist, just like many other racial and class slurs. That is the reason such terms are and should be included in the OED and other modern lexicons, as a record of their use.

The rediscovery of the term "Chinese helicopter" could also serve to remind our young of the hardships many of our forefathers faced in establishing themselves as Singaporeans. The term, pretty or not, is a part of our past. We should not seek to erase it from the pages of history or the dictionary.

Adam Reutens-Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2016, with the headline 'Derogatory Singlish term part of our history'. Print Edition | Subscribe