LINGUIST List 15.1961

Wed Jun 30 2004

Diss: Pragmatics/Semantics: Wong: 'A...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. jockonn, A Semantic and Cultural Interpretation of Singapore English

Message 1: A Semantic and Cultural Interpretation of Singapore English

Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 02:21:43 -0400 (EDT)
From: jockonn <>
Subject: A Semantic and Cultural Interpretation of Singapore English

Institution: Australian National University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Jock Onn Wong 

Dissertation Title: A Semantic and Cultural Interpretation of
Singapore English

Linguistic Field: Pragmatics, Semantics, Sociolinguistics, Cognitive
Science, Anthropological Linguistics 

Subject Language: English (code: ENG)

Dissertation Director 1: Anna Wierzbicka
Dissertation Director 2: Cliff Goddard

Dissertation Abstract: 

In the last thirty years or so, while one can find many studies on
Singapore English, a survey of these studies reveals that most
linguists who have written on Singapore English show very little, if
any, genuine interest in meaning and cultural ideology. Consequently,
while many aspects of the sound system and syntax of Singapore English
seem fairly well researched, it appears that we have not reached a
deep understanding of what Singapore English and hence Singapore
culture is all about.

My thesis aims to gain a better understanding of Singapore English and
Singapore culture through semantic study of several commonly used
Singapore English key expressions. The meanings of these expressions
are articulated in the form of reductive paraphrases using natural
semantic metalanguage, a methodology developed by Anna Wierzbicka and
colleagues over the last 30 years. This methodology allows meaning to
be stated with maximal clarity and minimal ethnocentrism. On the basis
of meaning, the culture-specific ways of thinking associated with
these expressions are investigated and described.
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