Other than being able to communicate with one's grandparents, why are dialects important? It is important to preserve our cultures and heritage. Once these disappear, they will be gone forever. Aside from Chinese dialects, there are also Malay and Indian dialects. These dialects should be viewed as key parts of Singapore’s culture and heritage. Some Singaporeans fear that by the next generation, no one in Singapore will communicate in dialect.
Therefore we wonder if is it time to make it compulsory to learn a dialect in Singapore schools.
It has been more than 40 years since the Speak Mandarin campaign kicked off. Its task was to encourage Chinese Singaporeans, who were long used to speaking dialects, to use more Mandarin. Founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew once said that to continue using dialects outside homes and schools is to interfere with the process of getting Singapore’s young to use Mandarin as their social language.
Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the current Prime Minister, has said that even though there was still room for dialects here, it is not pragmatic for dialects to be used more widely and mastered alongside English and Mandarin. He added that the trade-off between emphasising bilingualism and not promoting dialect use has allowed Singapore to maintain good English and Mandarin standards.
From an economic perspective, knowing dialects such as Cantonese and Hokkien will also help a great deal with doing business in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
What is your view on this? Do you agree or disagree?