The art of losing

MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.
This Chapter is currently unavailable for purchase.

This paper discusses issues in endangerment and postvernacularity in the context of Asia, a region with complex dynamics in multilingual ecologies that also includes the presence – dominance – of English, a language that entered the ecologies through colonisation. I use as illustration two minority communities with endangered vernaculars – the Malays of Sri Lanka, brought from various parts of the Malay archipelago by the Dutch and British colonial powers, and their vernacular Sri Lanka Malay, traditionally known as java, a mixed language of trilingual base (Malay, Sinhala, Tamil); and the Peranakans, descendants of southern Chinese merchants who settled in Malaya and intermarried with local women, and their vernacular Baba Malay, a restructured variety of Malay with southern Sinitic influences, usually referred to as patois. I query if linguistic and cultural loss is inevitable, or if such situations of shift – to a language of wider communication or an emergent variety – are in fact instances of empowerment and evolution in response to change, where a repositioning of the periphery in the new global economy brings greater accessibility to and participation in the Centre, and better adaptation for surviving and thriving.


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address