"Four Official Languages" Top 5 Page for this destination Singapore Local Custom Tip by SLLiew

Singapore Local Customs: 116 reviews and 187 photos


Singapore is unique in that there are 4 official languages.

Malay is the national language due to historical reason. Singapore was called Tumasek and part of the Johor Sultanate before the island was ceded to the English East India Company.

English is the administrative language. All Singaporeans are educated in English. Some of the older generations though do not speak English but in their mother tongue of Malay or various Chinese dialects or Indian languages.

Chinese, specifically Mandarin, is encouraged due to the importance of trade with China and as the major ethnic group in Singapore. Dialects were once discouraged. Hokkien (Fujianese) is the most common dialects though other dialects are spoken by some.

Tamil is the fourth official language. Most of the Singaporean Indians were from Madras (now Chennai) where Tamil is the lingua franca.

So most Singaporeans are fluent in three languages or more.

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  • Written Aug 21, 2007
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