Friday, December 21, 2007

Disallow‘Students of a girls’ school go into a rant over their principal’s decision to disallow visit by an American boyband’ (subhead, Sunday Times, 4 November 2007).

Sunday Times, 2 December 2007

Sunday Times, 2 December 2007

In Singapore English, the opposite of allow is disallow. (And why not, since the opposite of agree is disagree?)

In Standard English, however, the word disallow is used when a referee refuses to let a goal stand, or when an appeal or objection to authority is rejected (see Singapore English in a Nutshell by Adam Brown).

Shutter Bus

Interestingly, the sign says ‘shuttle bus’ but the graphic on the left reads ‘shutter bus’.

A knee-jerk analysis would be to treat this as evidence of the writer pronouncing /l/ as /r/, and vice versa.

However, that would be fallacious because, in the pronunciation of many Singaporeans, neither /l/ nor /r/ are sounded in shuttle and shutter — the result of the deletion of syllable-final dark /l/ (especially in the speech of Chinese Singaporeans) and the fact that Singapore English is non-rhotic (/r/ following a vowel is not sounded).

Hence, shuttle and shutter are homophones (pronounced alike) for many Singaporeans, and the issue of /l/-/r/ confusion does not even arise because they are not sounded in these words.