Sri Lankan Malay morphosyntax

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In this paper the convergence of Sri Lankan Malay on the grammars ofMuslim Tamil and colloquial Sinhala is discussed. This convergence is incomplete and its extent is asymmetrical across syntactic domains. The verbal domain remains closer to the syntax of other contact Malay varieties, as demonstrated by the pre-verbal surface position of major functional elements, including temporal markers, modal elements, and negation. Greater convergence in the nominal domain follows a shift from pre-nominal to post-nominal adpositions. The conservative distribution of functional morphology in the verbal domain (predominantly pre-verbal) is associated with weak verb movement, contra Tamil and Sinhala. This reflects the verbal syntax of contact Malay varieties from Indonesia, from which most lexical material in Sri Lankan Malay has been retained.


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