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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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Malaysian English in Postcolonial Adaptations of Shakespeare in Malaysia: Nurul Farhana Low Abdullah



The study of Malaysian English in literary creation has been carried out sporadically since the early 1990s. Among the areas of focus were nativisation and the marking of ethnicity (Lowenberg 1992), “nativisation through Malaysianisms in literary texts” (Fadillah 2000: cited in Azirah 2007) and lexical borrowing and syntactic variation of Malaysian English in creative writing (Azirah 2007). Published studies on Malaysian English in local drama and performance have been few and far in between; in fact, the very existence of Malaysian drama in English was questioned by Yong (1984) who declared: “Trying to survive in an environment largely indifferent or hostile to its welfare, Malaysian drama in English today has only a precarious presence in the cultural life of the country”.1 Two decades later, Quayum notes that the scarcity of drama publication and by extension, studies on local drama in Malaysia could be due to “the crippling sense of modesty of the writers themselves, who often shy away from publishing their work or lending their script to researchers, sometimes even after the successful staging of their plays”.2 One of the few collections of local English drama to appear in the twenty-first century is Huzir ← 221 | 222 → Sulaiman’s Eight Plays (2002). Philip’s (2004)3 review of this collection observes that the playwright “is particularly skilled at accurately transcribing Malaysian English in its many varieties, without any of the hesitancy or condescension that marked earlier attitudes”, going on to cite examples of such “earlier attitudes” in Edward...

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