superlinguo
superlinguo:

I became aware of the Speak Good English campaign here in Singapore when it was advertised on the side of a double-decker bus. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a photo - but it did make me hit the internet and learn about this government project that’s been running since the turn of the millennium.
Singapore has a recognised local variety of English, often referred to as Singlish (which I will write about sooner or later). The Good English movement aims to get people to move towards a more internationally recognised standard of English use. The website is full of information on common errors, correct pronunciation, and words people mix up. Although I couldn’t get the answers for the online quiz, it gives a good idea of the kinds of errors they’re keen to remove from Singaporean’s English usage.
Here at Superlinguo, we try and get people to chill when it comes to grammar and accents. There’s so much variety, and trying to bully people into using the variety you think is best can leave them feeling second-rate, even if their language is use perfectly consistent and used by a whole community.
Having said that though, the situation isn’t always so simple. Singapore has adopted English as the language of mainstream education and much daily communication partly because of its (British) Colonial past, and partly to provide a common language for the Chinese, Malayans and Indians who all call this nation home. Even Singaporeans who are fluent native speakers of English have assumptions made about their English competency, as illustrated by this conversation written about by my friend Amos - who speaks a highly standardised English.
In many ways, being able to tell people to appreciate language variation is a position of privilege. You have to be sufficiently comfortable with your own variety of language, and where that places you in the world. I’m not necessarily saying the Speak Good English movement is the only answer, but I think its enduring presence says a lot about Singapore, language variation and just how closely linguistic prestige is linked to identity and power.
[Image via Wikimedia - but I’m still determined to get a photo of that bus!]

superlinguo:

I became aware of the Speak Good English campaign here in Singapore when it was advertised on the side of a double-decker bus. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a photo - but it did make me hit the internet and learn about this government project that’s been running since the turn of the millennium.

Singapore has a recognised local variety of English, often referred to as Singlish (which I will write about sooner or later). The Good English movement aims to get people to move towards a more internationally recognised standard of English use. The website is full of information on common errors, correct pronunciation, and words people mix up. Although I couldn’t get the answers for the online quiz, it gives a good idea of the kinds of errors they’re keen to remove from Singaporean’s English usage.

Here at Superlinguo, we try and get people to chill when it comes to grammar and accents. There’s so much variety, and trying to bully people into using the variety you think is best can leave them feeling second-rate, even if their language is use perfectly consistent and used by a whole community.

Having said that though, the situation isn’t always so simple. Singapore has adopted English as the language of mainstream education and much daily communication partly because of its (British) Colonial past, and partly to provide a common language for the Chinese, Malayans and Indians who all call this nation home. Even Singaporeans who are fluent native speakers of English have assumptions made about their English competency, as illustrated by this conversation written about by my friend Amos - who speaks a highly standardised English.

In many ways, being able to tell people to appreciate language variation is a position of privilege. You have to be sufficiently comfortable with your own variety of language, and where that places you in the world. I’m not necessarily saying the Speak Good English movement is the only answer, but I think its enduring presence says a lot about Singapore, language variation and just how closely linguistic prestige is linked to identity and power.

[Image via Wikimedia - but I’m still determined to get a photo of that bus!]

Mt Rinjani, Lombok (Part 2)

Day 2: Another early day to leave camp at 7-ish.  We began descent into the crater.  The climb down took 2 hours and, as it was quite precarious, it was very slow going.  We stopped by the lake to check it out and then headed over to the hot springs to rest our weary selves (and the hot springs were actually hot so that was nice).  Lunch by the lake and then we began the hike back up the crater.  It started out quite ‘flat’ and then it started to rain and became a sharp incline and I fell far behind again.  Our guide was excellent though and stayed behind with me to make sure I actually made it up.  The top of the crater was cold and rainy so we had a tent party until dinner and then off to bed.  About 6 hours of hiking today.

Day 3: Started VERY early.  People who wanted to go to the summit got up at 2 for a snack and an early start in order to see the sunrise.  I didn’t go to the summit but I got up anyway to wish good luck (and drink hot tea).  I went back to bed for a couple hours and the few who went got back a few hours later.  (Note: It was COLD.  When I got up outside the tent at 2am I was pretty cold.  The people who went up the summit were even colder.  Warm clothes and wind protection are highly recommended.)  So began our downhill trek.  It started off very steep and sandy.  Many falls occurred.  Our final pit stop was a delicious lunch.  A couple more hours (for a total of about 6 hours) and we were climbing into the back of a truck to drive back to Senaru.  We picked up our stuff, said farewells, took another van to the harbour and caught the last boat over to Gili Air.

Needless to say, the next couple of days were spent in a lot of pain.

It was worth it though :)

Mt. Rinjani, Lombok (Part 1)

Our big reason for going to Lombok was a 3-day hike up Mt. Rinjani.  We started our day by leaving Senggigi at 5am to drive to Senaru where we met up with the trekking company and others that were hiking.  We were able to leave most of our luggage at the company’s hotel and just take what we needed for the hike (taking as little as possible will save your back and shoulders…).  There were 8 people in our group: my group of 4, a guy from Holland, a guy from Scotland , and a guy and girl from Québec.  Along the way we also got to meet a lot of the other hiking groups.  Each group had a guide and then about 4 porters who carried all of the tents/equipment/water/food/everything (and these skinny little porters were carrying about 90lbs and hiking in flip flops. and passing me ALL THE TIME. Their levels of fitness are insane).  We did a 3 day/2 night hike that took us up to the crater rim for our first night.  Down into the crater and then up the other side for our second night.  The third day was the hike down and back to the company’s hotel and off to the Gilis.  

Day 1: The trek started with 3 hours of walking through rainforest with 2 pitstops.  After 3 hours we stopped for lunch (soup, rice, bananas, and hot tea).  After about another 4 hours I made it to the top (apparently I was not in as great of shape as I was hoping..I fell far far behind everyone else).  The last hour or so was a different landscape than the start: more grassy, lots of dirt and rock, fewer trees.  Upon reaching the crater rim we were able to look down on the volcano and lake.  After watching the sunset and supper/tea it was an early bedtime.

The Monkey Forest!

Here there be monkeys.  Lots and lots of monkeys (I can’t remember what type they are, sorry).  You could buy bananas and feed them if you wanted.  Otherwise all your food had to be gone and drinks locked up tight in your bags.  And plastic bags had to be put into other, more proper bags.  It was neat to watch them though..even if it was a bit nerve-wracking when people were being stupid with them or suddenly they (the monkeys) just decided to roar.

Besides the monkeys there was also some nice architecture to see and a few creepy statues.

It was interesting, but not something I’d do again.  I’m not overly fond of monkeys…even if the babies are adorable

Beach, Beach!

We went to 2 beaches during our trip: Kuta Beach on Bali, and the beaches of Gili Air off of Lombok.

Kuta Beach: Actually really nice, very clean and lots of space.  Downside: there were so many hawkers that would come up to you and then come back 10 minutes later.  They were very persistent.  We were able to get some surfing lessons though (1 hour lesson, `1 hour free time for 150 000rph).  Our instructors were good and the hour of lesson time was very helpful and I was actually able to stand up and ‘surf’ a short distance.  During our free time however I realized how much help the instructor gave me by pushing the board onto the waves: I lacked the arm strength needed to actually catch a wave myself.  But it was kind of nice to just float out on the water! (and every now and then attempt to surf again)

Gili Air: The beaches along the main drag here were pretty nice.  There were restaurants right up along the beach and many had chairs that you could (if you ordered something) sit in.  Our time spent here was mostly relaxing on the beach which was a nice way to end our trip.

Another day in Ubud we went on a bike tour with Bali Eco-cycling (aka Bali Budaya Tours).  We got picked up bright and early in their bus with 7 other people (from the Netherlands, Belgium, and somewhere else..) and then drove up on the caldera of Mt. Batur, an active volcano, for breakfast at the restaurant there (pretty good!).  We then continued in the bus to a coffee plantation where our guide gave us some info on the various plants and the luwaks (or civets) which are cat-like animals that digest a certain bean which is then used to make a special coffee. YUM!

While at the coffee plantation we sampled a variety of coffees and then went to get set up with our bikes.  Thus began a 25km downhill cruise that required absolutely no exertion on my part.  

Our first stop was a traditional Balinese household.  They all follow similar set-ups: in the NE corner is the family temple.  The North building is the grandparents house and for 1 night is the honeymoon suite.  The East building is ceremonial; where the dead are laid out (length of time varies depending on the family’s wealth), wedding or birth ceremonies are also performed here.  Then there are other buildings for each family (usually 4 because that is how many kids most families would have).  Lastly they have a yard/garden.

Carrying on we stopped at a rice field and watched some ladies cleaning the rice off of the stalks.  Then to a large banyan tree to have a banana snack.  Then to a wood carvers shop making traditional Balinese doors and window shutters.  This is a very profitable job here.  Our final stop brought us to a restaurant for another good meal.  We then bussed back into town and back to the hostel to take some late afternoon naps-very much needed!

This was a pretty great activity for the day.  Our guide was great, we got to see a lot of the countryside and see how people live outside of the ‘city’.  I definitely recommend it.

While staying in Ubud we made a trip to Bali Treetop Adventures.  We had to hire a driver to go there (about 1-1.5hrs) who then waited for us for 2 hours while we climbed and then he drove us back.  The place was pretty awesome: they had several courses of varying difficulty.  The special sections were two ‘Tarzan swings’ (one smaller one, close to the ground; and one huge jump really high up).  Basically you clip onto a rope and then jump off the tree and swing towards a giant rope wall.  Pretty scary stuff.  A lot of the other things were balances to walk across, and there were several zip-lines short and long.

It was a great afternoon, albeit terrifying (I was shaking every time we got off a course) and a real arm workout!  

The Treetop Adventure Park is located in the Botanical Gardens which are also beautiful from what I saw