Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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This paper discusses supplementary roles played by Bazaar Malay and Baba Malay in the genesis of wh-questions in Colloquial Singapore English (CSE). CSE has three options for wh-questions: (a) full wh-movement, (b) partial wh-movement, and (c) wh-in-situ, just like Bazaar Malay and Baba Malay. Whereas options (a) and (c) arose under pressure from English and Chinese, option (b) apparently challenges the Sinitic substrate hypothesis on CSE for two reasons. Firstly, neither Cantonese nor Hokkien possesses partial wh-movement. Secondly, it is mysterious how the apparent Malayic pattern could have entered the pool of CSE features within the predominantly Sinitic contact environment. This paper proposes that partial wh-movement was added onto the CSE grammar as an evolutionary ‘adaptive’ trait from Malay which survived selective Sinitic pressures due to congruence between Malay and Chinese. Both Cantonese and Hokkien possess a wh-topicalization structure, which is sufficiently similar to the partial structure in Malay. As a result, the former served as the template for Chinese speakers to analyze the latter as a congruence structure in the emerging variety. This result supports the recent view that typological congruence between Sinitic and Malay must be taken into account in any discussion of the origin/development of CSE grammar.


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