Diverging trends in two ecologies
This article sheds light on the systematic differences between the variety of Baba Malay spoken in Malacca and that spoken in Singapore. In the literature, the creole is usually discussed as if it is a single homogeneous variety. Language documentation work conducted in both Malacca and Singapore shows that there are crucial differences between how Baba Malay is spoken in both places. These differences are systematic, and they pervade areas of morphology and syntax. All differences lead to the same conclusions. Evidence shows that the variety of Baba Malay in Malacca is much more heavily influenced by its lexifier, Malay, than the variety that is spoken in Singapore. Singapore Baba Malay is also more influenced by its substrate, Hokkien, than Malacca Baba Malay. This divergence between the two varieties is attributed to their specific ecologies. Crucially, the impetus for establishing two varieties of Baba Malay becomes even more vital than ever, given the fact that both varieties are highly endangered, and that researchers engaged in research on Baba Malay should be aware of both varieties and their social environments in order to fully represent the creole.
Keywords: Baba Malay, Southeast Asia, Austronesian, Sino-Tibetan, documentation, endangerment, ecology, morphology, syntax
Published online: 07 May 2018
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