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Open Access Establishing and Dating Sinhala Influence in Sri Lanka Malay

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Establishing and Dating Sinhala Influence in Sri Lanka Malay

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The study of Sri Lanka Malay has focussed on the genesis scenario, where theories of creolization (Smith et al., 2004; Smith & Paauw, 2006) with a dominant role of Tamil compete with theories of convergence (Bakker, 2006; Ansaldo, 2008), which allow for a more important role of Sinhala. This paper assesses and reevaluates the empirical data brought forward by both sides and contributes more empirical data on parallels with Sinhala. These parallels are partly due to substrate reinforcement (Siegel, 1998) of marginal structures found in Malay varieties, partly they are clear calques on Sinhala patterns. Some structures must be analysed as the result of Early Sinhala Influence during the colonial period, while for others, a later development following socio-political changes after independence is possible (Late Sinhala Influence). The paper argues that SLM changes towards Sinhala at both periods can be seen as a kind of metatypy comparable to other language contact settings in Eurasia and Papua.


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Affiliations: 1: MPI-EVA, Leipzig Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Department of Linguistics, Email:


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