A New History of the Kristang Language in Singapore by Kevin Martens Wong

Presented by The Arts House



In this fascinating new talk by Kevin Martens Wong, leader of the Kodrah Kristang grassroots movement attempting to preserve Kristang in Singapore, we delve into a previously unknown but delightful part of Singapore history when carnival was celebrated with parades and roaming minstrels, and where Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice and many other Shakespearean plays were performed to roaring crowds not in English, but in Kristang. Who would have thought that Singapore could have hosted such a vibrant Kristang entertainment scene, especially in light of the language's current, precarious situation? Drawing from his archival research in the National Library’s NewspaperSG digitised collection and personal accounts of Kristang speakers from the Oral History Centre collection at the National Archives of Singapore, as well as his own family history, Kevin will walk you through Kristang's early beginnings in Portuguese and Dutch Melaka, and then through its hitherto hidden history in our island state, and welcomes you to find out more about a Singapore that challenges your preconceived notions about daily life in our corner of the world. Beng prendeh di Kristang sa istoria kung nus!

About Kevin Martens Wong

Kevin Martens Wong is a science fiction novelist, linguist, civil servant, and the founder and director of the Kodrah Kristang revitalisation initiative for the critically endangered Kristang language in Singapore. He won the NUS Creative Writing Competition in 2015 for his short story A Merlion for His Majesty, and his work has also been published in Entitled and Transect. His first novel, Altered Straits, was published by Epigram Books in early 2017. He lives in Singapore.


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