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Volume 2 Number 3, Autumn 2005, Pages 1-149   


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The Linguistic Pragmatism of Mandarin in Singapore

    Charlene Tan


The government in Singapore uses both English and three ethnic languages, known officially as Mother Tongue Languages, for economic and cultural functions. Traditionally, English has been valued primarily for its economic contribution while the Mother Tongue Languages - Mandarin, Malay and Tamil - for their cultural contributions. However, there has been an increasing emphasis on the economic value of the Mother Tongue Languages, especially Mandarin in Singapore. This emphasis on the economic value of languages is known as linguistic pragmatism. This paper examines this shift and explores the external and internal factors that contribute towards this phenomenon in Singapore. The discussion illustrates the dynamic interplay between the rise of China as an economic power and the language shift to English among Chinese students in Singapore which lead to the linguistic pragmatism of Mandarin in Singapore.