11 June 2013


A few years ago, I did a survey among my fourth-year students at UBD, and about half of them selected Brulish as the name for the colloquial variety of English in Brunei, while the other half said there was no common name for it. This contrasts with the situation in Singapore, where everyone would agree that Singlish is the common name for the colloquial variety. They may not like this term, and some of them may not approve of the use of Singlish, but everyone would agree that the name exists.

This illustrates the different status of English in Singapore and Brunei. In Singapore, a colloquial variety is established, and there is a common name for it; but in Brunei, it is not clear that a distinct colloquial variety of Brunei English exists. This is partly because English is the universal inter-ethnic lingua franca in Singapore, while Brunei Malay more often takes on that role in Brunei.

However, last week some teachers told me that their pupils use the term Brunglish. I don't know if this term is widespread or not; but if it does become established, it might indicate that a wider role for a colloquial variety of English is emerging in Brunei.