Commonly used Chinese words such as train (huo che), Singapore (xin jia po), braille (tu zi shu) and national flag (guo qi) were coined right here in Singapore by pioneer missionaries in the early 19th century.
At the time, Singapore had an active printing industry. Chinese books, about half a million of them, were published and distributed to the Chinese diaspora here and in the region, giving them access to information barred by the Qing government in China.
It was also in Singapore that Peranakan and other Chinese literature was printed for regional audiences.
The evolution of early printing in the Chinese language here is one of many little-known stories about the Chinese community featured in an upcoming book called A General History Of The Chinese In Singapore.
The English-language book covers the Republic’s pre-1819 history and shows how Singapore Chinese – originating from China, Penang, Malacca and the Riau Archipelago – came to the island with other ethnic groups to build a nation.
The book, about 800 pages long with 38 essays, is supported by the Singapore Bicentennial and National Heritage Board (NHB) and will hit shelves in June, said the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) yesterday.
The book is helmed by National University of Singapore historian Kwa Chong Guan and independent Singapore Chinese historian Kua Bak Lim.
Last updated on 14/03/2019