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Home language shift and its implications for language planning in Singapore: From the perspective of prestige planning
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De La Salle University Manila
Zhao, S. (2007). Home language shift and its implications for language planning in Singapore: From the perspective of prestige planning. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 16(2), 111-125.
Early research perceived language planning (LP) as a one-way process, underpinned by the
positivistic view that the major problems facing language maintenance and spread could be solved through the application of the scientific method and careful planning by language planners (Baldauf, 2004). This perception continued until the 1990s, when some researchers (e.g.,Haarmann, 1990) started a series of studies examining receptive processes in achieving LP goals, with the focus on a more fundamental but hidden agenda - human behavior and the
psychological aspect in receiving the planned language product, which gives rise to a theory of prestige and image (Ager, 2005a & 2005b) planning in the LP research literature.
In this paper, drawing upon the empirical data, we attempt to apply the theoretical framework of prestige and image LP to examine the status of Chinese in a Singaporean context. Through a correlative analysis of children's language use and the family's socio-economic status, we found that the Chinese language (CL) gradually lost its prestige in Singapore's society in general, and in particular it has lost ground to English in what Bourdieu terms as 'linguistic capital.' We argue that the future success of language policy in term of Chinese language maintenance, by and large, depends upon whether and how its prestige and image are being promoted. Our analysis therefore contributes to alternative vistas on the understanding ofthe official discourse
towards language issues in a multicultural society.
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