6/10/2007

Ban that song

In the Sunday Times column, 'English as it is broken', it tries to explain the proper usage of person and people as often people are confused when using these two words. A person is a person, singular. People is a collective now. So it is proper to say one person or two persons but not one people or two people. It is incorrect to say there are one or two people in the room. It is correct to say one person or two person in the room. So cannot say one people. This brings me to the famous national song of Singapore, One people, one nation, one Singapore. This must be broken English or Singlish. How can we sing 'one people'? Actually English is a bloody confusing language to use. And my first paragraph has me confused too. I begin with 'people are' and then 'people is'. Now which is right and which is wrong. People is a collective now, and is is used to explain the word. The people are friendly, the noun in action. And who says one cannot write 'is is' in the same sentence? Stupid English or Singlish?

2 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

You're leaving out the principle of context, and as a result you're giving yourself a headache.

I don't mind Singlish—I've always believed that languages are 'alive' and immensely democratic—i.e. the 'market' (uncontrolled by any central controller) finds the most efficient way, and language will develop such that human to human communication is efficient, for a particular culture, at a particular time in their evolution.

So to me, at least, Singlish is 'charming'. What I can't stand are the fake American accents one hears generally over the airwaves.

Those fuckers who speak like that are an embarrassment. I find the women the worst culprits of this inane practice.

I'm not alone in my observation. Foreigners have commented on it, some of them even joke about it amongst themselves.

"National songs" are a prominent feature in every socialist country. They are used by the despots to subtly brainwash the children in school by forcing them to sing this rubbish, for to be "united" as "one people", one has to surrender one's individuality, and subjugate one's self-interest to the "common good".

National songs (like the mentioned) come from the state, folk and popular songs (like Rasa Sayang or Moon Represents My Heart) come from the people. Singlish songs come from Dick Lee.

redbean said...

ya, language is a living thing in its own way. every people will use it, write it and speak it in a way they are comfortable with.

with the diversity of people, there will be a need for some common ground and some uniqueness in the way language is being used.

the more linguistically able can switch and adapt the language at will. some can't. and there is a need to communicate, a need to be different, to be stylist, a need to be beautiful, a need to be understood.

you can't make an ah beng a english gentleman.

but we should not consciously try to be different and eventually speak something that is unintelligible.

the massive problem that india is facing is the numerous languages that they speak in different region and with different scripts even. my, what a headache to get them to understand each other.

as a country, you need to be understood easily. at the international level, we need to be understood by others as well.