Taking a Closer Look on Non-English Blogs

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While studies have long been conducted on the English blogosphere for content, language used, and context between bloggers of different or same nationalities, few have gone on to explore that of non-English language blogs.

With 4 main racial groups and accordingly 4 different languages spoken, there is a lot that can be studied for the local blogosphere in Singapore between these language groups. In a study of non-English language blogs, namely Chinese, Malay and Tamil, issues such as the topics written, language used, inter-culturalism exposure between bloggers, as well as the person behind the blogs were explored.

First off, the topics covered by each of the different language mediums showed ample variance between each group. Chinese and Malay language blogs were likelier to cover their personal experiences. However, while Chinese language blogs seemed to steer away from political issues, that cannot be said for blogs in the Malay language, although it was observed that there was a shift of political discussions on these blogs to Facebook instead. Also, the theme in Malay language medium blogs usually revolved around marriage or culinary interests. A stark difference was noted for the Indian language blogs. It was prominently observed that issues raised often came from the standpoint of an “Indian” instead of a “Singapore” unlike the other 2 language mediums studied. In addition, the focus of these issues were also largely about the local Indian community.

There was also a clear distinction in the choice of language used. Chinese and Tamil language blogs were often written with strong grammatical accuracy in their written form. On the other hand, Malay language blogs were written with a distinct colloquial style, often incorporating elements and words from other languages and even the local Chinese dialects. It may be assumed that the use of this informal language helps the blogger connect better with the target audience.

Results from the study conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies were unable to find any significant topics that connected the blogosphere of these 3 language mediums. None of the blogs studied had links to a blog in the other 2 languages of interest, even though most shared links to English medium blogs or bilingual blogs of English with their own language. There was a higher occurrence of bilingual Tamil-English blogs compared to either the Malay or Chinese language blogs.

Lastly, the study gave us a general overview of the bloggers. For blogs written in a Chinese language, the bloggers were usually comprised of Singaporean Chinese, with a minority of Malaysian Chinese. Similarly, Singaporean Malays also made up the bigger share of the pie for blogs written in the Malay language. In contrast, Indian bloggers were made up largely of long-term, non-native residents of Singapore. It is especially interesting to note that for the latter, there were a significant number who were well connected within the local Tamil literary scene, and that could have influenced the topics they chose to cover.

Like any study, there are of course several limitations encountered by the study. First and foremost, the sample size of Malay and Tamil language blogs found were too few to make any accurate generalization. In addition, to adhere to a study of only blogs instead of other social media mediums, bloggers who had migrated their platform of choice to either Facebook or Twitters had to be excluded. Lastly, although a lot of effort went into an initial keyword search to gather the biggest sample possible, there is a chance that some local bloggers were missed out, on the account that the bloggers chose not to divulge their nationality.