Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
- conscious / ˈkɒn ʃəs / (adj.) – knowing or noticing something
I wasn’t conscious of my nail-biting habit until my friend told me about it.
- straightforward / ˌstreɪtˈfɔr wərd / (adj.) – clear; directly saying what one means to say
The instructions are straightforward and easy to follow.
- ethnically / ˈɛθ nɪkli / (adv.) – in a manner that relates to race or cultural background
Singapore is an ethnically diverse country. Its population is made up of Chinese, Malays, and Indians.
- reconcile / ˈrɛk ənˌsaɪl / (v.) – to make two different ideas, beliefs, or situations agree or exist together
The two project proposals are very different, but it may be possible to reconcile both ideas.
- nuance / ˈnu ɑns / (n.) – a small difference in meaning, appearance, or feeling that’s not very noticeable
He’s an excellent actor; he can show nuances of various emotions in his facial expressions and body language.
Read the text below.
Continued from Part 1…
Just like the characters in the film, many Singaporeans use two or three languages in our daily lives. We may speak English at work, and use a mixture of English and Mandarin or Malay with our friends. With our family members, we may switch between languages and dialects without even being conscious of it.
Hence, our answer to the question “Where do you come from?” is often not a straightforward one. Do we say our nationality? Our country of birth? Our race? For example, I am ethnically Chinese and born and raised in Singapore. I celebrate Chinese festivals such as Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival, but I don’t feel any sense of belonging to the country where my great-grandparents came from. English poetry is just as relatable to me as Chinese idioms, and Southeast Asian flavours are more comforting to me than many Chinese dishes.
For individuals with mixed parentage, the situation is even more complex. In my friend’s experience, she sometimes found it hard to reconcile the differences between two cultures. Often, she felt like she didn’t really belong anywhere. But I think that her source of discomfort can also be a reservoir of strength and resilience. Surely, the more diverse the cultures we can draw from, the more perspectives we can enjoy — and that also teaches us to be more accepting of difference and nuance. (Tan Ying Zhen)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
- Many Singaporeans use two or three languages in their daily lives. They may switch between English, Mandarin, and Malay in various situations. Do you think it’s difficult to switch between languages? What do you think are the pros and cons that come with it (ex. faster communication vs. differences in understanding)? Why? Discuss.
- According to the author, the answer to the question “Where do you come from?” is often not a straightforward one. Who do you think struggles most to answer this question (ex. people who moved to another country, people born in another country)? Do you think it’s okay to ask this question to people, especially those who moved to another country? Why or why not? Discuss.
- According to the author, the more diverse the cultures we can draw from, the more perspectives we can enjoy—and that also teaches us to be more accepting of difference and nuance. Do huge cultural differences exist in your country? Do you find it difficult to accept or deal with cultural differences? Why or why not? Discuss.
- In your opinion, what cultural aspects do most people find difficult to reconcile (ex. communication styles, traditions)? Do you think it’s possible to live peacefully despite differences in these? Why or why not? Discuss.