part of beyond typography project
Taking the concept of pangram as a point of departure, Jesvin Yeo explores the language of her fellow Singaporeans, Singlish. (Pangram is a sentence that uses all the 26 alphabets of Roman language). English is widely spoken in Singapore but over the years, Singaporeans have developed their own brand of English fondly referred to as Singlish. With the multi-racial background of Chinese, Malay, Indian and European, it's not surprising that Singlish borrows from the many different languages spoken in Singapore. The vocabulary of Singlish consists of words originating from English, Bahasa Melayu, Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi and to a lesser extent various other languages, while Singlish syntax resembles southern varieties of Chinese.
In Singapore, there are many debates over whether to or not to do away with Singlish. The artist feels that because Singlish has evolved from many years of mixing languages, it truly shows Singapore's development as a multicultural nation. Doing away with Singlish would be erasing a huge chunk of Singapore's history. With a belief that Singlish is a part of the culture in Singapore, an infusion of all things Singaporean, the artist created 26 Singlish pangrams from A to Z to celebrate the birth of Singlish.
The Singapore Pangram illustrates the language as part of Singapore culture, describing the fusion of Singapore different races, their influences and the transcendence of their impact. Intentionally, the works at once confound and elucidate, challenging the viewer’s perceptions by confronting the very nature of stereotypes, seeing and the symbiotic relationship between typography, the artist and the viewer in a process of discovery.
Singapore Pangram is supported by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and Ministry of Education, Singapore.
Research period: 2008-2011