Singaporeans' Communication towards Foreigners

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This paper discusses Singaporeans’ communication styles towards foreigners in Singapore and in other countries using Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT). In recent years, there has been much furore among Singaporeans about foreigners in Singapore not adapting to our national languages and speaking styles. Mainland Chinese, especially, have come under fire for not picking up English and sticking to their thickly accented Mandarin. Based on their reactions, we think Singaporeans will diverge from foreigners’ communication styles in Singapore. On the other hand, Singaporeans tend to learn foreign languages before flying overseas, especially for extended stays. Some Singaporeans also pick up foreign accents during their stay. From our observations, we think Singaporeans will converge towards foreigners’ communication styles when they are overseas.

In our report, we want to find out if other Singaporeans share our observations and whether these observations can really be explained using CAT.

a. Singaporeans diverge from foreigners’ communication styles in Singapore
b. Singaporeans converge to foreigners’ communication styles overseas

Singaporeans diverge from foreigners’ communication style in Singapore
According to CAT, divergence is a communication strategy adopted by someone to accentuate the differences between him and another person. Divergence can be verbal or non-verbal in nature. Verbal forms include vocabulary (choice of words), use of slangs, and language. Non-verbal forms include accent, intonation (tone, pitch range, loudness, rhythm, tempo), and speed. Based on CAT, we predict that Singaporeans will adopt divergence when communicating with foreigners in Singapore because of the following r...

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...ndard British English when speaking to one’s London friends. Code switching allows convergence to both in and out groups, which makes it a valuable skill to have.

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