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Open Access Comments on Nordhoff ’s “Establishing and Dating Sinhala Influence in Sri Lanka Malay”1

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Comments on Nordhoff ’s “Establishing and Dating Sinhala Influence in Sri Lanka Malay”1

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Students of Sri Lanka Malay agree that the language has been heavily influenced by the local languages, Sinhala and Tamil. Differences arise over not only the degree and timing of such influence from each language, but also the extent to which the language developed through untutored second language acquisition (on the part of Tamil &/or Sinhala speakers) &/or intense bilingualism (on the part of Malay speakers). Nordhoff’s arguments for Sinhala influence are examined in the context of Thomason’s (2001) framework for establishing contact-induced change and found to be convincing for some features, but weaker or unconvincing in others. The argument for early Sinhala phonological influence is based on an unsurprising distribution and the mechanism of substrate influence (Siegel, 1998, 2008) which has not been shown to operate in the context of intense bilingualism. The linguistic differing consequences of untutored second language acquisition and intense bilingualism have not been thoroughly investigated, except on lexicon (Thomason and Kaufman, 1988). The Sinhalese component of Sri Lanka Malay lexicon stands at less than 1% (Paauw, 2004), a figure inconsistent with the claim of heavy Sinhala influence through intense bilingualism.

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2. Ansaldo Umberto ,. 2008. "Sri Lanka Malay revisited: Genesis and classification". In David Harrison K. , Rood David , Dwyer Arianne (eds.), Lessons from Documented Endangered Languages(Typological Studies in Language 78), 1342. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
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5. Bakker Peter ,. 2006. "The Sri Lanka Sprachbund: the newcomers Portuguese and Malay". In Matras Yvon , McMahon April , Vincent Nigel (eds.), Linguistic Areas – Convergence in Historical and Typological Perspective , 135159. Houndmills, Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
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15. Slomanson Peter ,. 2006. "Sri Lankan Malay morphosyntax: Lankan or Malay?"In Deumert Ana , Durlemann Stephanie (eds.), Structure and Variation in Language Contact(Creole Language Library 29), 134158. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
16. Slomanson Peter . 2009. "Morphosyntactic finiteness as increased complexity in a mixed negation system". In Aboh and Smith, 243264.
17. Slomanson Peter . 2010. Known, inferable, and discoverable in Sri Lankan Malay research. Paper presented at the Workshop on Sri Lanka Malay, Leipzig. Nov. 10.
18. Smith Ian R. 2001. "Creolization and convergence in morphosyntax: Sri Lanka Portuguese and Sourashtra nominal marking typology". The Yearbook of South Asian Languages and Linguistics 2001[issue edited by Peri Bhaskararao and Karumuri Venkata Subbarao]: 391409.
19. Smith Ian R. 2010. "Hijacked constructions in second language acquisition: Implications for Sri Lanka Malay". Paper presented at the Workshop on Sri Lanka Malay, Leipzig, Nov. 10.
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24. fn1 1 I am grateful to Romola Rassool, Mohamed Jaffar, Vani Manoharan and four anonymous Tamil speakers for their assistance. All errors are mine.
25. fn2 2 Adstratal influence typically involves languages of equal prestige, and the borrowing may proceed in both directions. Apart from a few lexical borrowings, however, Sinhala and Tamil have taken little from Sri Lanka Malay. The demographic dominance of Sinhala and Tamil speakers accounts for the unidirectional borrowing.
26. fn3 3 Ansaldo, by contrast, projects the present situation on the past, arguing that Sinhala, as the socially and economically dominant language, was more likely to be the source of features in Sri Lanka Malay; Tamil “cannot be totally excluded” but was “less likely to be a candidate” (2009a: 281). The documented social links between the Malay and Moor communities (Hussainmiya, 1990, and now Slomanson, 2010) are ignored.
27. fn4 4 See Smith (this issue, p. 12)
28. fn5 5 The nasal portion of “prenasalized” stops in Sinhala are actually of comparable length to (single) nasals before stops in other languages; thus phonetically the contrast is between long nasal + stop and normal nasal + stop ( Ladefoged and Maddieson, 1996: 121, citing Lisker, 1984)
29. fn6 6 Geiger actually specifies a “nominal origin” (1938: 163)
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/content/journals/10.1163/187740912x623406
2012-01-01
2015-08-28

Affiliations: 1: Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics York University, Email: iansmith@yorku.ca

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