“The next time you see a sign written in poor English, don’t just walk by. Instead, paste a sticky note over it, correcting the grammatical error.”
“Got problem call me can” becomes “Please let me know if you need help.”
The people behind The Speak Good English Movement are hoping that these guerrilla tactics will make Singaporeans more conscious of their use of English and that they will help others correct their errors. The movement exists for 11 years and this year’s slogan is: Get it Right. Its aim is that people always speak English, whether they’re in talks with a colleague, a relative, a hawker or a taxi driver.
Although English is the official language in Singapore, a lot of people speak Singlish, a casual Asian English. Most Singaporeans speak Singlish alongside a second language, the so-called mother tongue and that is often a Chinese dialect or Malay, Tamil or English standard.
Singlish is actually quite an efficient language. You just omit a lot of verbs and after almost every sentence you say ‘lah’. Lah is actually the salt of the language, so it is sprinkled over sentences generously. You think you can do lah?