ASK! about Singapore
According to the study done by Singapore Department of Statistics, there are more than 20 Chinese dialect groups here (1). Some of these dialect groups are: Hokkien (Fukien), Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese and Northern Min, Mandarin and Wu and Peranakans (2).
Four major categories of Malay dialects include Malay, Javanese, Madura, and Peranakan Baba.
Major varieties of Chinese include (3):
Pŭtōnghuà (Mandarin), Wú , Yuè (Cantonese) , Mĭn Nán (Southern Min) , Jìnyŭ , Hakka , Xiāng (Hunanese) ,
Gàn , Mín Bĕi (Northern Min) , Mín Dōng (Eastern Min) , Mín Zhōng (Central Min) , Dungan , Pŭ-Xián , Huīzhōu
According to James Campbell, “.. the Hanyu Fangyan Da Cidian lists 2,119 county and city names which may also include other townships and villages where dialect variation occurs within a county. The Hanyu Fangyan Da Cidian does not list each and every locality within counties as long as the county as a whole is representative of one dialect variant. One cannot count the number of dialects by the number of place names in this list. The localities listed here are classified within 150 dialect divisions.” Here’s an extensive Chinese dialect classification (4) by James Campbell :
Malay dialects spoken in Singapore are:
Malay, A language of Malaysia (Peninsular)
Dialects Trengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Perak (Southern Malay), Sarawak Malay, Bazaar Malay (Low Malay, Pasar Malay, Pasir Malay, Trade Malay). ‘Bazaar Malay’ is used to refer to many regional nonstandard dialects. Over 80% cognate with Indonesian. (5)
Javanese, A language of Indonesia (Java and Bali)
Jawa Halus, Cirebon (Tjirebon, Cheribon), Tegal, Indramayu, Solo, Tembung, Pasisir, Surabaya, Malang-Pasuruan, Banten, Manuk. West Javanese dialects: Banten, Cirebon, Tegal; central Javanese dialect: Solo in Yogyakarta; East Javanese dialects: Surabaya, Malang-Pasuruan. High Javanese (Jawa Halus) is the language of religion, but the number of people that can control that form is diminishing. The Javanese in Suriname and in New Caledonia have changed sufficiently to be only partially intelligible with difficulty. Javanese in New Caledonia are reported to not be able to use High Javanese (Koentjaraninggrat). Several dialects in Sabah. (6)
Madura, A language of Indonesia (Java and Bali)
Bawean (Boyanese), Bangkalan (Bangkalon), Pamekesan (Pamekasan), Sampang, Sapudi, Sumenep. There is a dialect continuum. Reports differ about inherent intelligibility among dialects, but some speakers of Sumenep and Sampang report that they cannot understand Pamekasan or Sumenep. Difficult intelligibility of Kangean. Lexical similarity 75% with Kangean. (7)
Malay Baba, A language of Singapore
Peranakan Baba language: It developed since the 15th century from Low Malay with many Hokkien Chinese borrowings. Regional variants between Malacca and Singapore. Partially intelligible with Standard Malay. It is generally believed that the Baba of Malaysia is more ‘refined’, and that of Singapore more ‘rough’. Most have learned Standard Malay and English in school. Lim (1981) and Holm (1989) treat it as a Malay-based creole. It is different from Peranakan Indonesian. (8)
(1) Source: http://www.singstat.gov.sg/ssn/feat/2Q2001/pg2-6.pdf
(2) Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_in_Singapore
(3) Source: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/chinese_spoken.htm
(4) Source: http://www.glossika.com/en/dict/
(5) Source: http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=mly
(6) Source: http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=jav
(7) Source: http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=mad
(8) Source: http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=mbf
(All sites are accessed on 15 June 2007)
Some related titles in the NLB libraries which might be of interest and which their availability can be checked at http://vistaweb.nlb.gov.sg:
The dynamics of Chinese dialect groups in early Malaya / Mak Lau Fong.
English 305.89510595 MAK
The languages of China / S. Robert Ramsey.
Call number: English 409.51 RAM
Han yu fang yan da ci dian
Call number: R Chinese q495.17 HYF -[DIC]
(Subject: Chinese language Dialects Dictionaries. )
Studies in Malay dialects / edited by James T. Collins.
Call number: RSEA English 499.231 STU
The phonological diversity of the Malay dialects / oleh Asmah Haji Omar.
Call number: R English 491.2315 ASM
A description of nineteenth century Baba Malay [microform] : a Malay variety influenced by language shift / by Elzbieta A. Thurgood.
Call number: R English 499.288 THU
Answered by Mr. Kweh Soon Huat, Librarian, Adult and Young People’s Services
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