09 September 2011

LKY at ELIS Launch

In my previous post, I mentioned the launch of the English Language Institute of Singapore (ELIS), which I attended last week. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the event was the speech by Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of Singapore. Here is part of the picture from page A3 of The Straits Times of 7 Sept 2011, showing him together with some of the leaders of ELIS.At the end of the speech, he suggested that American English is likely to become increasingly influential in the future, partly because of the power of the American media. This is the headline next to the picture in the newspaper:This message seemed to cause panic among folk from the Ministry of Education, who apparently had no idea he would say that. Afterwards, they were bombarded with questions from the newspapers about what they planned to do in order to deal with this shift towards American English.

Actually, as far as I could tell, Mr Lee was just talking about spelling and maybe vocabulary, for he also said that it is fine to use your own accent so long as you speak well and clearly. This fits in very closely with the views of most academics involved in research on World Englishes.