American English versus British English?

Recently, I’ve read an article which really set me thinking. In the article, former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had raised the point that Singaporeans should start to adapt to the usage of American English. At the opening of the English Language Institute of Singapore, he said that “I believe we will be exposed more and more to American English and so it might be as well to accept it as inevitable and to teach our students to recognise and maybe, to even speak American English”.

Being a student who was brought up to use British English, does it mean I need to start panicking and relearn the pronunciation or spelling of certain words? I don’t think so, but I should be worried about another matter instead.

After reading this article, I went on to tweet the following tweet on my personal Twitter account.

“erm, can you tell the difference if im saying ‘realise’ or ‘realize’?”

A friend of mine, who is currently studying linguistics at NTU replied : “/re-uh-laiz/ or /rear-laise/? Hehehe.” and followed up with this tweet “haha shouldnt have a diff!! Unless you’re talking abt noun-verb distinction but even so……….. :/ no diff…”

What appears to be more important and relevant to me at this time is not whether my written/spoken English is in American or British, but whether I am being understood regardless of ‘what-type-of-standard-English’ I am using. We should also be worried about the standard of English used instead, since Singlish is a very dominant part of every Singaporean’s lifestyle. In the heartlands or at home, it would be natural and totally fine to speak Singlish/Mandarin/dialects. But under workplace and school conditions, the use of proper English would be more appropriate. What we need to learn is to know when would be the most suitable times and scenarios to use which language.


It would not cause confusion if you used the word ‘color’ or ‘colour’  when speaking to an American or Briton, but you would definitely confuse him if you spoke in Singlish.


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