Singapore language

singapore flag

The Republic of Singapore is a country that belongs to Asia, and its capital is the City of Singapore. It has a population of 5.6 million inhabitants (113º) with only an extension of 722.5 km 2 (176º). This makes it the third densest country in the world, behind only Macau and Monaco. Its human development index is very high (9th) and its official currency is the Singapore dollar. But what language is spoken in Singapore?

What language do they speak in Singapore?

Singapore has 4 official languages:

  • English , spoken by 36.9% of Singaporeans at home.
  • Mandarin Chinese, which is spoken by 34.9% of citizens.
  • Malay, spoken by 10.7% of the population and is the sole national language of Singapore.
  • Tamil, the least common of the four, is spoken by 3.3% of the population.
english chinese tamil malay singapore poster

Of the remaining 14.2%, 12.2% of the population speak different dialects of Chinese, and the other 2% other languages.

The Singapore government maintains a policy of bilingualism in education. In schools it is compulsory to learn a second language, a fact that causes the majority of the inhabitants of Singapore to be bilingual, normally with English present in one of the options. Of the ethnic Chinese population, 72.8% speak English, of the Malay ethnic group 87.7% and of the Tamil ethnic group 72.5%; figures that, in addition, have a growing current. Literacy rates (reading and writing) for each language are as follows: English (80%), Chinese (65%), Malay (17%), and Tamil (4%).

The most widely spoken immigrant languages ​​are Korean (7,240), Thai (5,650), Japanese (4,940), Urdu (3,000).

The English language

English (English) is the most widely spoken language in Singapore (in its Singaporean English version) . Taking into account the speakers as a first or second language, up to two thirds of the population dominate this language (66%). It is used as the lingua franca among Malay, Chinese and Tamil speakers.

english traffic sign singapore

English is also used in schools, as a medium of instruction, as well as in business and government. In public bodies, English is also used, and if an official document is written in one of the other 3 official languages, as a general rule it is usually translated into English as well. The laws and the constitution are written in this language. Only 20% of Singaporeans can neither read nor write.

The malay language

Malay (Bahasa Melayu) was chosen as the national language by the Singapore government after independence from the British Empire in the 1960s, in order to avoid friction with neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia. However, this has more of a symbolic meaning than a functional purpose. It is the language used in the national anthem (Majulah Singaporea). Although it is officially written with the Latin alphabet, there are people who prefer to write it with the Arabic alphabet “jawi”. Only 9.9% of ethnic Malays are monolingual.

Mandarin Chinese language

Mandarin Chinese (官話/官话) is the most common variety of Chinese in the country, although other variants such as Min Bei (15,200 speakers), Min Dong (34,200), Min Nan (625,000 speakers) are also spoken to a lesser extent.), pu-xian (23,300), and Cantonese Chinese (227,000). However, the trend over time is to abandon these variants of Chinese and switch to Mandarin Chinese or English. One fifth of ethnic Chinese (19.4%) is monolingual.

The tamil language

Tamil (தமிழ்) is the least used official language in Singapore. In Singapore, it is the ethnic group with the most bilinguals, since only 3.6% of them are monolingual. Despite this, Tamil remains or even grows slightly in speakers, due to immigration from India or Sri Lanka. They have their own number system.

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