Pronunciation is a highly debatable topic especially for Singaporeans because we tend to pronounce various words differently due to the different kinds of media we are exposed to.
Arguably, the older generation tends to pronounce words in the British form such as Ikea as Ee-Ki-Ah while the younger generation, who are more exposed to social media platforms such as TikTok pronounce words in the American form such as Ikea as I-Ki-Er.
The difference lies in the pronunciation and not the spelling of the word. This is what linguists usually refer to as language variety, which essentially means a difference in language due to factors such as pronunciation, spelling, and use of words.
With that being said, have you ever wondered why there are people who call Mathematics Math while others call it Maths?
If you’ve only 30 seconds, you can watch this to know more:
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In Singapore, Should We Use Maths or Math?
To be quite frank, both terms Math and Maths are acceptable short-term forms of the word Mathematics.
Note that linguists (i.e. language experts) don’t use the word “correct”, but the word “acceptable” instead, simply because there is no right or wrong in language: if a certain word is used more often, it becomes acceptable. This is why English in the past sounds so different from modern English.
The difference is that Math is more commonly used in America and Maths is more commonly used in Commonwealth states such as the United Kingdom and Australia, which is more or less the same as the explanation used for the Ikea example.
A common argument that would be used to debunk whether one should use Math or Maths is that Maths is the correct abbreviation for the word Mathematics because it ends with an “s”.
However, the argument can be classified as flawed because the English language is rarely guided by logic, and these usage idiosyncrasies are often arbitrary.
Hence, whether a person uses Math or Maths is often differentiated by an Isogloss, which is an imaginary line that exists between two different distinct linguistic regions.
Simply put, if you’re older, maybe you think Math isn’t acceptable…while if you’re younger, you would think Maths is “wrong”.
So Why Do Singaporeans Use American and British English Interchangeably?
The reason Singaporeans use both American and British English is quite simple: It is due to the consumption of international media.
With international media being so easily obtainable in this day and age due to multiple applications, there is no doubt that Singaporeans, who are arguably very tech-savvy, are exposed to various cultures around the world.
Although the Singapore education system is based on the British English system (not entirely, but let’s leave that for another article), the consumption of US shows have affected how we pronounce certain words.
Another reason why there is a mixture of the two variations of English in Singapore is that Singapore is a multicultural state.
This essentially means that due to people from all over the world migrating to Singapore, the English-speaking community is bound to have a mixture of the different variations.
So the next time someone tries to rudely correct you for your pronunciation, you can simply explain to them the unique linguistic culture that Singapore has and why at one moment you are speaking the British variant of English and the next you are speaking the American Variant.
Or you can simply just walk away, because if anyone tries to correct your pronunciation, it’s never about pronunciation, but about ego.
You can watch this vide to understand how people’s ego could affect lanugage:
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