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Singaporean PM encourages more efforts to use Mandarin

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-10-23 10:05

SINGAPORE, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday encouraged citizens to make more efforts to use and improve their Mandarin.

The prime minister made the call at an event marking the 40th anniversary of the Speak Mandarin Campaign at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.

"People all over the world are learning Mandarin eagerly. They all know that to work in China, to build relationships with the Chinese, and to grab opportunities that come with China's development, they have to master Mandarin," he said.

The Speak Mandarin Campaign was first launched in 1979 to encourage Singaporeans to speak Mandarin.

Mandarin has helped unify Singapore's Chinese community, strengthening kinship and enabling a deeper understanding of Singapore's Chinese culture. Moving forward, the Speak Mandarin Campaign aims to help Singaporeans build the capability and confidence to use Mandarin effectively in different contexts, as it continues to create conducive environments for Mandarin to be used and practiced.

"We have to put in more effort to encourage the use of Mandarin in our daily lives, and find ways to keep the language alive and preserve the uniqueness of our Mandarin," said the prime minister.

While most young Chinese Singaporeans today can understand and speak Mandarin, they may not speak it fluently, he noted.

The Mandarin that Singaporeans speak and use carries unique nuances in vocabulary and turns of phrase. Singaporeans can soon find these Singaporean Mandarin terms in a newly created online Singaporean Mandarin database. The database features commonly used and unique Singaporean terms which reflect and celebrate Singapore's multi-ethnic heritage and identity, according to experts.

Led by Principal Investigator and Promote Mandarin Council member A/P Tan Chee Lay, the research project aims to compile the Singaporean Mandarin database over two years, and will include terms that Singaporeans would have ascribed cultural, historical or sentimental value to. These terms are used in Singapore but may not be commonly used in other Mandarin speaking regions.

The Promote Mandarin Council has collaborated with Business China to identify and recognize eight young bilingual professionals, whose language capability in Mandarin has helped them in their professional careers, or enriched their personal lives.

"This is a milestone year for the Speak Mandarin Campaign and we are encouraged that many believe Mandarin to be integral to strengthening a unique Singaporean Chinese identity. With this year's initiatives, we encourage everyone to embody the right attitudes, and to play active roles to encourage the use of Mandarin," Chua Chim Kang, chairman of the Promote Mandarin Council, said.

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