Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Topic–Comment in Singapore English

The two highlighted extracts from the New Paper (25 November 2008) illustrate the phenomenon of topic–comment in Singapore English: this is a sentence construction where the topic is mentioned, and a comment is then added to it.

In the above, the topics (all civil servants across the board, administrative officers, et al.) are marked by for. The comments begin with a pronoun referring to the topic: this is called a resumptive pronoun.

Singapore English is more topic-prominent than Standard English, where the preferred construction is simply subject + predicate: in the above instances, for and they would be deleted.

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