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Seeing and Hearing Singapore

“Seeing and Hearing Singapore” is a short documentary produced by Muhammad Waliyuddin (Waly) and Tiara Hamarian, both 2nd Year English Literature Students from NTU. They produced this short feature documentary as their URECA project under the supervision of Ng Bee Chin from the Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies. In this short 21 minutes feature, Waly and Tiara skilfully captured the complex linguistic landscape of Singapore. Through the eyes of Singaporeans in the street, linguists and educators, they visualise the kaleidoscope of multilingual and multicultural Singapore through a collage of interviews and symbolic images.

Language and Emotion

The research group on bilingual emotion works on understanding how emotion terms are understood, used and expressed in different languages. The team approaches the issue from different perspectives, combining experimental approaches from cognitive psychology, ethnographic interviews as well as utilizing different corpus to explain emotion terms crosslinguistically. The research also focuses on the different ways in which bilinguals negotiate emotion terms in the two (or more) languages they use. Are emotion words like ‘anger’, ‘shame’, ‘guilt’, ‘pride’ and ‘disgust’ understood the same way in different languages? How do languages shape our understanding of emotion words? How does shared understanding of emotion words connect us to our community and heritage?

Language, Culture and Identity in Diaspora

What is the relationship between culture, identity and language? Is it the language we use most frequently? Is it our parents’ or grandparents’ language? Is it the language of our childhood? Is it the routine customs and rituals that we are used to? How strongly do we feel about these issues? This is what this project aims to find out.

In this project, many researchers including linguists, historians, interactive media specialists, computer engineers, scientists and museum curators from within NTU and relevant external collaborators will come together to tackle these questions. From an interdisciplinary collaboration, an interactive experience for the general public was developed. Users of the application will be guided through a process where they will aim to create a word profile of a character in the given application. They will be presented with word collages consist of keywords that are important to the characters’ cultural identity. However, the user’s aim is to make clever guesses of what the cultural profile of the character will look like. They also have the opportunity to compare the profile they created with the profile created by the character herself. Through this application, we aim to both further our understanding of the relationship between language, culture and identity and increase awareness of our heritage. This project will also provide valuable insight about social perception of language and identity within and across language groups.

Singapore Voices

The linguistic landscape of Singapore has always been vibrant, with its long history as a trading port, and its start as a population of immigrants from many countries. 25 or more languages have been documented as being spoken by the Singaporean population in the decades up till after independence in 1965. However, in recent years, the number of speakers of minority languages has been dwindling at an alarming rate. Singapore Voices is a project that aims to capture these disappearing languages and bring awareness of the importance of language maintenance and preservation to the public in an accessible, meaningful way.

The collaboration between linguists, photographers and sound designers produced sensitive, expressive presentations of interviews with 8 elderly speakers of minority languages in Singapore – Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Teochew, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainanese and Baba Malay. Lifesize portraits of interviewees are erected on glass panels, and audiences are invited to interact with the displays through touch sensors on the hands and shoulders, which trigger sound excerpts of the interviews. The portraits are translucent, representing the disappearance of these languages. Audiences are guided to see themselves through the image of the older person, and reflect on the loss of language and channels of communication.

The future major aim of Singapore Voices is to be able to digitally archive these sound and video clips towards the creation of a digital database and corpus of all languages spoken in Singapore.

Mythology and Heritage – Engaging Young Audience with Intangible Heritage

A childern exhibition at the Asian civilizations Museum featuring the story of Mulan, a Chinese folk heroine. The exhibition is centered around an interactive table juxtaposing cultural artifacts and contemporary objects from popular culture aimed at young visitors and highlighting the cultural heritage of folk heroes.