Code-switching in Kuala Lumpur Malay: The “Rojak” Phenomenon

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2009-08-14T16:30:39Z
Authors
Abu Bakar, Husni
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Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
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This journal has been published at different time periods under the following titles: Explorations: A Graduate Student Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Explorations in Southeast Asian Studies, and The Journal of the Southeast Asian Studies Association.
In this study, code-switching in Malay is investigated by isolating and concentrating on Kuala Lumpur Malay (KL Malay). Native speakers of KL Malay were interviewed and recorded, and their responses were transcribed and glossed. Analysis of these responses suggests a significant percentage of English words have been imported into the KL Malay lexicon and are being used in various contexts to replace their KL Malay counterparts. Moreover, it is found that morphemes from KL Malay can attach themselves to borrowed English words. It is also discovered that female speakers use more English words than male speakers. Overall, this study provides concrete evidence of the occurrence of code switching in KL Malay. The results of this study raise significant questions about the acquisition of KL Malay as a native language, as well as whether KL Malay has transformed into a creole. From a language planning standpoint, this may be related to the superimposition of English as a second language for all Malaysians, as mentioned by Hassan (2005). Other issues that are connected to this matter are the premature selection of Malay as the instructional medium in schools despite the lack of certain terminology and widespread bilingualism in the society. This paper invites a reexamination of the current linguistic situation in Malaysia, especially in the peninsula where KL Malay is spoken.
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linguistics, Malay language
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9 pages
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