Language Ecology, and Visualization of Intangible Heritage

Language Ecology, and Visualization of Intangible Heritage

A project of DIHA

Partner Institution


2010 – 2012

Description / Summary of Project

This project aims to capture the vibrant cultural and linguistic fusion of Singapore through the study of three major ethnic communities – Malay, Hokkien and Baba Malay – through interdisciplinary lenses. The focus of the research will be on the language ecology of these three communities which share common traits, such as convergence and divergence from the source language and substantial cultural shift over the years. Baba Malay in particular is widely cited to be a cultural and linguistic “amalgam” of Hokkien and Malay. Hence, a linguistic and cultural study of these three groups necessarily entails an anthropological as well as historical survey of the linguistic contexts across time. The study of languages and its environment, also known as “language ecology”, is a fast growing field in linguistics, mainly because of the keen awareness of just how “perishable” languages are as part of our intangible heritage.

The project will see collaboration between linguists, historians, interactive media specialists, computer engineers, scientists and museum curators. An innovative outcome is for the significant social, cultural and historical heritage of these three main ethnic groups to be researched and visualized through the use of technology and multimedia interfaces. Interactive media experts, engineers and computer scientist will combine their research know-how to create a “Singapore Cultural Experience Room” where both intangible and tangible aspects of the three cultural groups can be experienced in an interactive manner. Tracking technology will be used to personalize the experience of each participant in the experience room. Unlike conventional museums that utilize mobile devices and multimedia booths, this interface will be an intelligent system which will respond to the different curiosity levels of the patrons and will introduce the room in a novel and dynamic way to each visitor and make their experience intellectual as well as emotional. This cultural experience room will be mobile allowing it to be moved to different settings (e.g. museum, schools etc.) to enhance learning experiences or it can be replicated to serve different environments.


Posted on

September 1, 2016

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