Sri Lanka Malay and its Lankan adstrates

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Sri Lanka Malay is the vernacular language of the descendants of the Malay-Javanese diaspora of Sri Lanka. It is a restructured variety of Malay, which emerged from the prolonged contact between speakers of Malay varieties and speakers of Sinhala and Tamil varieties. The grammar shows a typological shift from the Austronesian to the Lankan type, a shift that can be explained by the typological pressure that the adstrates Sinhala and Tamil – which are highly congruent – exercise in the trilingual environment. This paper discusses the prevalent grammatical patterns of Sri Lanka Malay in terms of frequency, typological congruence and trilingual admixture. I show that, for a complete understanding of Sri Lanka Malay grammar, we must approach it by taking into full consideration the typological matrix in which it has developed, which includes a Malay-based lexifier and two adstrates, namely Sinhala and Tamil. This argues against a view of Sri Lanka Malay as the product of a bilingual admixture.


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