What Languages Are Spoken In Singapore?

The skyline of Singapore.
The skyline of Singapore.

Located in Southeast Asia, Singapore is a state that comprises of a single island and some sixty two islets. The location of the country and its colonial history are important factors that led to the great diversity of languages spoken by citizens living in the country. According to statistics, the citizens speak several languages such as Mandarin, Tamil, English, and Malay. The languages were born as a result of lingual exchanges between immigrants of various ethnic backgrounds and the natives of the place. Apparently, the country has four official languages, which include English, Malay, Tamil and Mandarin. Malay is the national language of Singapore. English has become one of the dominant languages of Singapore. Many residents of the country can speak two or more languages, a factor that is infulenced by the education system of the country. The education system dictates that besides the native languages, citizens should also attempt to learn the national and official languages.

The Official Languages Of Singapore

Mandarin Language

Mandarin is one of the major languages spoken in Singapore and also serves as one of the official language in the country. Due to its ability to unify the Chinese living in the region, Mandarin has been on the rise since the 1970s. It is important to note that most of people who speak Mandarin are the Chinese Singaporeans. The 1979 ‘Speak Mandarin campaign’ that focused on increasing the use of Mandarin was a drive that looked into expanding the scope of business and help the country venture into the increasing and industrializing China. As such, the language is the second most used language after English in the country.

Tamil Language

Tamil language is written using the Tamil Script, and is widely used by the Indians who live in Singapore. Although the number of native Indian Singaporeans who speak Tamil has declined over the past few years, the language has gained momentum in the country due to the increased number of Indians visiting the country from places like India and Sri Lanka. Statistics indicate that the Tamil language is a dominant language in many Indian homes and is one of the official languages spoken in Singapore.

English Language

English is one of the four official languages spoken in Singapore. In 1965, when the country attained its independence, the leaders decided that since English had become one of the languages used by several countries, they must popularize its use within the country. One of the factors that compelled the leaders in the country to adopt the English language was the economic benefits derived from using the language in commerce and trade. English is also one of the languages used to facilitate communication among individuals from diverse regions in and outside the country.

Malay Language

Malay is used as the official and national language in the country and unlike Mandarin and English, the use of the Malay language has diminished after the country’s independence. After independence, Malay culture and language took a down south route, something that leaders in the country have been trying to change over the past few decades. Many schools that taught the language closed down after English took the lead. One of the issues that makes Malay distinct from other languages in the country is its utilization of Rumi, the Roman Script, in its writings. Presently, the country uses the language in decorations, the national anthem, and government orders.


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