Don't mistake poor English for Singlish

The excerpts from Madam Seah Li Leng and Mr Jonathan Mark Macpherson's letters (Singlish not a cause for worry; and Language is fluid, Oct 6) may appear to condone or encourage the use of Singlish.

Using Singlish when the situation and timing are appropriate is most certainly laudable and commendable.

However, unconsciously using Singlish when the occasion calls for more formal spoken English is a cause for worry.

It is not unsavoury to speak and use Singlish if one can easily code-switch.

But from my experience as a speech and voice trainer, I find that not many locals are able to speak standard English with clear diction and good enunciation.

For example, a good majority of speakers do not consciously articulate final consonant sounds, especially when it comes to words such as "guests", "costs", "cold" and "fund".

It is not a matter of "clinging" to past glory of "traditional" British English. Let us not mistake speaking slovenly English for speaking Singlish.

The issue is not whether speaking Singlish should be frowned upon.

Rather, can we speak standard English clearly, distinctly and correctly when we should?

Our news readers on Channel NewsAsia and 938Live are excellent role models for us to emulate and pick up the right sounds of standard spoken English.

Tan Teck Huat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2017, with the headline 'Don't mistake poor English for Singlish'. Print Edition | Subscribe