About me

Velda is a Singaporean linguist whose research focuses on Singlish. She works within paradigms of sociocultural linguistics and linguistic anthropology and examines language and identity, language in globalization, and language politics. Through her professional work on Singlish, she engages in debates on the linguistic status of Singlish, and questions fundamental assumptions of language: what is language, how language emerges from usage, and how language facilitates identity construction.

As a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder, she has focused on synthesizing and challenging previous research that has placed Singlish in many, often conflicting, categories: hybrid languages, creoles, and “a bastardized variety of English”, among others. Her upcoming dissertation focuses on the ways linguistic ideologies can both shape and limit language boundaries and linguistic structure. The academic study of Singlish is plagued by disagreements over its structural integrity, due to its origin as a mixed language that incorporates elements of English, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, Malay, and Tamil, among others. In a country where speakers hold multiple hybrid registers as part of their linguistic repertoire, where Singlish’s borders start and end is a difficult analytical question to answer. To understand Singlish’s multiple linguistic realities we must consider the impact of the subjective perceptions and “reports” of its speakers: instead of starting by approaching Singlish as an empirically observable linguistic register, Singlish is instead treated as a space of metapragmatic negotiation. This prioritizes the evolving linguistic ideologies within the unique context of Singapore’s rapid socioeconomic development into a modern and affluent postcolonial nation, and allows examination of how these ideologies form narratives that then anchor and guide linguistic practice in Singapore.

Velda is also a graduate instructor at her home department, and has led and taught many years of undergraduate courses in linguistics, including World Language Policies, Language in U.S. Society, Language, Gender, and Sexuality and Language Sound Structures. She is also affiliated with the Program of Writing and Rhetoric at CU Boulder, and has designed and taught first-year writing courses informed by her research in contact linguistics. In 2022, she represented CU’s program in Culture, Language, and Social Practice (CLASP) as liaison to the Society for Linguistic Anthropology to organize their Spring Conference held in Boulder. She worked with the SLA leadership to bring new voices and perspectives into the fold of linguistic anthropology, while also finding ways to highlight the importance of linguistic anthropology to fields of inquiry situated in other disciplines. Velda received her MA in Linguistics from the University of Colorado Boulder and graduated valedictorian from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore with a BA (first class honours) in Linguistics and Multilingual Studies. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and playing mahjong with her kakis.