Chinese languages and Malaysian English: Contact and competition.

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The transference of features from Chinese languages is one of the more recognizable
aspects of Malaysian English (MYE). This case study explores the
Malaysian component of the Corpus of Global Web-Based English (GloWbE
MY) for quantitative and qualitative evidence of the influence of Hokkien,
Cantonese, and Mandarin on MYE. Framed against a discussion of the status of
English in Malaysia and an overview of relevant language contact theories, the chapter focuses on a particular type of contact-induced change – borrowings. The data extracted from GloWbE MY demonstrates that Hokkien, Cantonese, and
Mandarin have been key in shaping the lexicon of MYE. Analyses of frequencies, concordances, and collocates, however, revealed salient differences in the influence of these languages. Furthermore, there are significant differences in the integrative potential of the borrowings that each contribute. These differences reflect, firstly, the dynamics of the contact between English and Chinese in Malaysia and, secondly, the competition among the three Chinese languages in this intensely multilingual contact situation. It is postulated that any study on the influence of Chinese on MYE must consider the multiplicity of Chineseness, as well as the evolving statuses, roles, and functions of the Chinese languages spoken in the country.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Chinese Language Studies
EditorsZhengdao Ye
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9789811368448
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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