Language Choice Among Customers and Staff of a Coffeeshop and McDonald's Outlet

Chris Low Chuan Weng

English Language Honours AE, NIE, 1997


    The present study aims to contribute to the limited number of detailed studies on language use in Singapore by examining language choice among Singaporeans in a coffeeshop and McDonald's outlet. The premise for language choice was based on the fact that Singaporean speakers are highly mutilingual. The theory underlying the study was that setting was a major determiner of language choice. The two settings investigated, of different cultural origins, were perceived to exert a direct influence on the language behaviour of the interlocutors in them, and it was expected that the two sociolinguistic suitations would turn out to be vastly different. Structured interviews and participant observations at the two sites were the methods used to gather data in the study. Findings showed that the sociolinguistic suitations in the two settings, though showing differences in certain aspects, were generally less well-defined than perceived. There was lack of evidence to support the hypothesis that setting could single-handedly influence language choice. On the other hand, the participant factor appeared to be more significant. The paper concludes with a discussion of the shortcomings of the study and briefly suggests how its effectiveness can be enhanced.