A 85-year old Punjabi grandmother in Singapore — who never went to formal schooling as her parents back then felt girls did not need education – could speak at least eight languages and dialects.
Jaswant Kaur, who lives in Bukit Batok, is said to be known to almost everyone in the neighbourhood. The amazing ability to speak so many languages and dialects must surely be the key to her charm.
She speaks her mother tongue Punjabi along with English, Chinese, Malay and a sprinkling of Tamil. She also speaks Chinese dialects like Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese and Hainanese.
MP for Bukit Batok Murali Pillai shared her story on a Facebook posting.
Asked how she learnt Malay, she replied: “Saya takda belajar. Saya dengar, saya tahu.” Translation: I didn’t study them, I picked them up by listening.
In his Facebook entry, Murali writes:
When asked how she learnt them, she said “I did not go even to Primary 1. My grandmother told me girls should not go to school. I learnt ABC on my own. I also learnt the languages by listening to my colleagues. I used to work at “Ang Sua” washing sand before it was sold. I later worked in a sewing department of a Japanese clothing factory in Boon Keng.”
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