Volume 44, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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The study aims to work towards a diachronic reconstruction of pragmatic particles in Colloquial Singapore English (CSE, also known as “Singlish”) by exploiting an unused historical data source: The held by the National Archives of Singapore (OHI-NAS). We investigate the distribution of five pragmatic particles (, , , , and ) in 101 interviews conducted between 1979 and 2009 in speakers born between 1899 and 1983. Lim (2007) reconstructs the origin of these particles in different substrate languages, with the first two particles ( and ) being traceable to earlier Bazaar Malay and/or Hokkien, while the latter three (, , and ) are of later Cantonese origin. The results of the present study show that and are the most frequent particles attested earliest. Their frequency of use increases over time, being additionally contingent on the gender and age of the speakers, their educational level, and their ethnic background. The particles and are mostly used in assertive contexts.


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