So, you’ve decided to move to Singapore for work or study. Booked your flight tickets, applied for your Singapore visa and even arranged for accommodation. All set to fly, isn’t it?? Wait, a minute! What about overcoming the language gap? Learning about the languages spoken in Singapore will help you break the ice, blend into the Singapore culture and forge friendly bonds.

Want to get acquainted with the languages before you leave?  

Well, worry not! We are here to help you! With some knowledge about the common languages in Singapore you will be able to initiate conversations and make new friends.

To learn more about the languages used in Singapore read on.

Singapore is a hub of cultures, its no wonder that the languages spoken are all as different as the cultures. English, Malay, Chinese (Mandarin) and Tamil are the official languages of Singapore. Apart from schools, the road signs in Singapore also feature all the above languages.

1. English

English is the most commonly used language with it being used in official government proceedings, business matters and also in schools. It has became a unifying factor to bring together people of all cultures living in the country. As English is a universal language, it acted as a stepping stone for the country’s economic and technological advancement post their independence.

2. Malay

Also known as Bahasa Melayu, Malay is the national language of Singapore. With limited vocabulary and simple grammar, this variety of Malay is slightly different than the one spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Singapore’s national anthem is written in Malay. It is written in two scripts, Rumi – based on the roman script and Jawi – based on the arabic script.

3. Mandarin

Also known as Huayu, Mandarin is the second most used language in Singapore. It acts as a link between Chinese Singaporeans and their Chinese culture and traditions as it is mostly used by immigrants from Southern China. It is borrowed from Teochew, Hokkien, Hainanese and Cantonese dialects and is pretty simplified compared to traditional Chinese Putonghua.

4. Tamil

A South Indian language from the state of Tamil Nadu, has also made its place in Singapore’s list of languages. With increasing numbers of Indians and Sri Lankans visiting Singapore, tamil became a dominating language and made it to the list of official languages in Singapore. However, tamil is not the only Indian language spoken in Sinagapore, the other languages are: Hindi, Sindhi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Telugu, Kannada, etc.

Fun Fact: Locals in Singapore often communicate in “Singlish”. A variation of English mixed with various Singaporean dialects, that uses broken words, has no grammar or rules, and has a unique accent of its own. It is an identification mark of true native Singaporeans. Since, Singlish  is a very informal language and often considered slang, it is never used in formal settings.

Conversing with a local won’t be an issue as many Singaporeans usually are multilingual. They can speak English and their mother tongue quite fluently. You can always choose to speak in English as it is a universal language if you are not fluent in any other language spoken by the natives.

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