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English in Malaysia

Postcolonial and Beyond


Hajar Abdul Rahim and Shakila Abdul Manan

The main thrust of this edited book is the development of Malaysian English (ME) as a new variety of English from the 1950s to the first decade of the 21st century. The book comprises nine chapters on different aspects of the variety based on original research.
The journey ME has taken as a postcolonial variety is discussed in terms of its linguistic development within the current frameworks of World Englishes (WE), particularly with regard to the evolution of new Englishes. Thus, the book discusses a range of ME linguistic and development issues such as lexis, phonology, modality, discoursal features, linguistic style and variation based on a variety of spoken, written, formal, informal, literary and non-literary language data. The findings from the studies contribute new knowledge on how ME has developed and also importantly, the realities and prospects of the variety as a dynamic and rich New English.
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The Monophthongs and Diphthongs of Malaysian English: An Instrumental Analysis: Stefanie Pillai



The Monophthongs and Diphthongs of Malaysian English: An Instrumental Analysis


Malaysian English (ME) not only comprises an array of sub-varieties (Gaudart 2000: 47) but is also spoken in a multitude of accents ranging from the less ethnically and geographically marked accents heard on national television news to a more Americanised accent of urban teenagers. It is also common to hear Malaysians switching from one accent to another whether as an identity marker or to accommodate or assimilate with speakers from different ethnic groups (Pillai 2008: 42). This is an interesting phenomenon because in many cases it is likely that the speakers are using an accent of a particular ethnic group, not necessarily their own, whilst speaking in English (or even in Malay) in lieu of an ethnic group’s language. This is not done in a derogatory way, but rather to mark solidarity with that particular group. For example, a Malaysian of Tamil ethnicity may speak English with a Chinese accent when speaking to a fellow Malaysian Chinese shopkeeper. In fact, Malaysian Tamils may even use English with other Tamilians with a “Tamil” accent especially when they cannot speak Tamil, perhaps as a marker of in-group identity. In other words, the inability to use one’s own ethnic or heritage language is in a way compensated by the use of an ethnically accented variety of English. This is not a surprising phenomenon given that linguistic markers are one of the easiest ways to...

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