Let us warmly welcome Prof Lionel Wee who joins the FASS Dean’s Office as Vice Dean of Research this year!
We caught up with him to find out more about him.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I enjoy travelling, but mainly to cities. The countryside is fine for about half an hour, then I get bored and restless.
I work mainly in cafes, a habit I picked up as a graduate student doing my PhD in Berkeley, California. My problem is that when I sit down to work, I am quite focused about what specific idea or argument I am trying to develop. Once that has been done, I need to walk around before I can move on to a new idea or a different part of the argument. This means that I tend to drink too much coffee because I have to buy a new cup each time I sit down again.
I am not a particularly sentimental person. But the one thing that I feel very strongly about is animal welfare. There is still insufficient respect in society for non-human life.
What is your area of research?
I work on language policy, World Englishes, sociolinguistics and applied linguistics. I also have a strong interest in general sociology. I am currently working on two projects: emotions and cities, and the biopolitics of language.
As a linguist in the Department of English Language & Literature, what are your thoughts on Singlish? Is it an abomination or a national treasure?
This is one of those false dichotomies that plague public discussions about Singlish. The more important question and one that remains under-discussed is: What do we really mean or understand by the label ‘Singlish’?
There are subtly different understandings of what we mean by ‘Singlish’, and there can be little progress in public debates/discussions as long as we fail to confront this more fundamental question about the nature of Singlish.
Can you share your thoughts about joining Dean’s Office as Vice-Dean for Research?
It is a childhood dream come true.