Sri Lanka Malay

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Two sociolinguistic characteristics of Sri Lanka Malay (SLM) are atypical for a creole: a non-European, non-colonial lexifier (Vehicular Malay), and a single substrate (Sri Lanka Muslim Tamil) with which it remained in contact. The Tamil-like characteristics of present-day SLMdiffer from those often claimed to typify creoles. In particular, the SLMtense-mood-aspect system expresses Tamil categories rather than the traditional creole categories of anterior, nonpunctual and irrealis. Bakker (2000) claims 19th century SLM more closely resembled a ‘typical’ creole, and the Tamilization of SLM represents a recent process of ‘conversion’. However, present-day SLMdescends from (unrecorded) 19th century colloquial SLM, not from the written diglossic high. The Tamilized structure of SLM results more plausibly from its atypical developmental context than from recent influence.


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