The Straits Times
Published on Dec 08, 2012

Why Mandarin now when seniors have got by for 20 years without it?


THE names of places or people should be pronounced the way the native speakers do or how they are termed officially ("Keep it in English or in all four official languages" by Ms Kimberley Lim; yesterday).

For example, the Chinese require Beijing to be pronounced in hanyu pinyin, instead of "Peking". Words like Somerset, Clementi and Eunos are the names of individuals and should be pronounced the way they were intended to be, instead of being translated.

Another example is East Coast. It has become an official place name so that when Malays say it, they do not translate it into the Malay equivalent "Pantai Timur".

The MRT has been in operation since 1987 and the names of the stations have been announced in English all along. The MRT is used by most Singaporeans and a whole generation schooled in English should not have a problem identifying the names in English.

SMRT says it introduced in-train service messages in Mandarin to help the elderly. Senior citizens have been listening day in and day out to such messages in English since the MRT began operations more than 20 years ago. Is SMRT certain that these same seniors will lose their way without the use of Mandarin voice-overs?

Mohammad Yazid