The readings included in this literature review are directly connected with the subject of globalisation and the latter’s influence upon the world’s linguistic situation. The findings produced by their authors may be used to pinpoint the dual (global and local) character of the linguistic processes in the increasingly globalised world. For instance, in the opinion of Dissanayake (2009), the growth of colonialism would lead to the increasing appropriation of critical perceptions of Western concepts of language and their peculiarities. It would appear that an example of Singapore, having retained the official status of English long after the end of the colonial period, shows the endurance of colonialism’s legacy (Ho, 2006). In this regard, the economic benefits of the maintenance of the official status of English may be mentioned as well (Ho, 2006). In a similar vein, Sardar (2000) assumed that the process of globalization was increasingly associated with the attainment of economic prosperity, so that the prestige of English as the national language may have added further stimuli for Singapore to actively participate in global economy after WW II.
Sreberny (2000) believes that the international communications dimension of globalization has significantly contributed to the Third World “development,” in particular, to those aspects thereof that were assumed to check the “multiple and diverse legacies of colonialism” (Sreberny, 2000). In this regard, Singapore may be a unique case, as its foundation by Sir Stamford Raffles, who was a prominent British explorer and commercialist, was almost immediately followed by the rapid growth of its commercial economy, favouring further development of this still nascent settlement. Singapore’s revenues from international trade surpassed those of Penang, its initial commercial rival, in one year after the city’s foundation, so that its future prominence was already evident back then (MICA, 2012). In the course of the city’s subsequent development, a thorough application of Western business models and the development of the capitalist commercial culture enabled Singapore to swiftly progress along the ranks of the Third and First World economic entities, which culminated with the achievement of the city’s present status of one of the world’s economic heavyweights in the late 20th century (Lee, 2000). Hence, it may be even claimed that Singapore was one of the most successful examples of the West’s use of the concept of modernization to influence the integration of the Asian nations within “the sphere of capitalism” (Thussu, 2006).
Thus, one should understand the inherent interdependence of the concepts of ‘capitalism’ and that of ‘globalisation’. Harman (2004) posits that globalisation would be impossible in the absence of capitalism, and vice versa, as the need for obtaining the surplus products that cannot be extracted from local producers drove the capitalist powers of the West to engage in “looting distant peoples” or, at best, establish the unequal trade relations with the latter (Harman, 2004). In so doing, the nations with limited natural resources, e.g. Singapore, strive to satisfy their consumers’ needs, so that the development of globalisation is driven by the capitalism’s economic logic. Within such interpretation, globalisation is an inevitable outgrowth of capitalism.
Both Sardar (2000) and Ho (2006) are critically predisposed towards the claim that the rise of globalisation would rapidly lead to the disintegration of a Singaporean cultural identity. However, the decrease in usage of Singlish, a local pidgin dialect of the English language, may still be seen as endangering the local cultural heritage, since, in the words of Sardar (2000), this “exotic lingua franca nurtured from English by way of the various ethnic communities” comprises the essence of Singaporean identity. In turn, Ho (2006) believes that a lot of Singaporeans may experience anxiety related to the perceived loss of the Singlish-cemented linguistic identity, as this dialect is widely perceived as the core of the city-state’s peculiar culture.
On the other hand, Yue (2006) rejects the argument on the gradual loss of the Singaporean cultural and linguistic identity. In his opinion, the post-1999 expansion of cultural industries, such as arts, museums, urban renewal, etc. have been accompanied with the growing interest in Singaporean culture, as well as the increasing sense of a cultural coherence.
In contrast, Chitty (2010) allegedly follows in the footsteps of Ho (2006) and Sardar (2000) by observing that the Western perception of Asia is that of the backward continent “lagging politically and economically behind West” (Chitty, 2010). Furthermore, in Chitty’s opinion, the critique of cultural imperialism is itself tainted with the upholding of Western sociological biases that focus on the allegedly negative developments in Asia, subtly pointing at the Asians’ alleged inferiority. In this regard, Singapore may be viewed as a medium case, for, in Ho’s (2006) words, while “Singapore’s cultural identity leans more towards the West,” its traditional culture may be represented as an “uneasy mish-mash of East and West” (Ho, 2006).
Singapore’s delicate situation is further emphasized by the dictum of the privatization drives that would add more complexity in globalisation’s linguistic effect (Leo, Petrina, & Lee, 2004). The development of such technology as television would have further influence upon the rise of a uniform Western-style culture, threatening Singapore’s authenticity (Williams, 1974). The role of television and more advanced digital technologies of information processing and communications (e.g. social media; Xin, 2010) would thus be that of a cultural controller, leading to the emergence of a contrived simulation of the culture actually left behind (Carey, 1999). This would be the most important conclusion from the readings reviewed within this paper.