Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2452-1949
  • E-ISSN: 2452-2147
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Baba Malay speakers perceive words ending with [al], [aɾ], and [as] as ‘coarse’, and their counterparts ending with [ɛ] as ‘refined’. The contrast is neither phonetic, phonological or morphological. Instead, it may be mitigated by sound symbolism operationalized by F2. The frontness of [ɛ] is associated with a smaller articulatory space in the oral cavity, and hence refinedness, as compared to the more backwards coarse forms. This study employs a matched-guise perceptual task. Refined forms are elicited from speakers. The F2 in the relevant endings is adjusted twice upwards and twice downwards in steps of 100Hz. Listeners rate these guises on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being most associated with ‘refined’ values. Results show that the higher F2 is, the more likely listeners are to associate the guise with ‘refined’ values.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ansaldo, Umberto; Lisa Lim; and Salikoko S. Mufwene
    2007 The sociolinguistic history of the Peranakans: What it tells us about “creolization.” Deconstructing Creole. Typological Studies in Language. 73, ed. byUmberto Ansaldo, Stephen Matthews, and Lisa Lim, 203–226. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.73.11ans
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.73.11ans [Google Scholar]
  2. Bell, Allan
    1984 Language style as audience design. Language in Society13.145–204. 10.1017/S004740450001037X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S004740450001037X [Google Scholar]
  3. Boersma, Paul; and David Weenink
    2013Praat: doing phonetics by computer [Computer program]. Version 5.3.59, retrieved20 November 2013fromwww.praat.org/
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Calder, Jeremy
    2019 The fierceness of fronted /s/: Linguistic rhematization through visual transformation. Language in Society48.31–64. 10.1017/S004740451800115X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S004740451800115X [Google Scholar]
  5. D’Onofrio, Annette
    2014 Phonetic Detail and Dimensionality in Sound-shape Correspondences: Refining the Bouba-Kiki Paradigm. Language and Speech57. SAGE Publications Ltd.367–393. doi:  10.1177/0023830913507694
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830913507694 [Google Scholar]
  6. Drager, Katie
    2013 Experimental Methods in Sociolinguistics. Research Methods in Sociolinguistics: A practical guide, ed. byJanet Holmes and Kirk Hazen, 58–73. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Eckert, Penelope
    2019 The limits of meaning: Social indexicality, variation, and the cline of interiority 95.27. 10.1353/lan.0.0239
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.0.0239 [Google Scholar]
  8. Geertz, Clifford
    1976The religion of Java. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Gonda, J.
    1949 The functions of word duplication in Indonesian languages. Lingua2.170–197. doi:  10.1016/0024‑3841(49)90022‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0024-3841(49)90022-4 [Google Scholar]
  10. Gordon, Matthew; and Jeffrey Heath
    1998 Sex, Sound Symbolism, and Sociolinguistics. Current Anthropology39.421–449. doi:  10.1086/204758
    https://doi.org/10.1086/204758 [Google Scholar]
  11. Gwee, William Thian Hock
    2006A Baba Malay Dictionary: The First Comprehensive Compendium of Straits Chinese Terms and Expressions. Singapore: Tuttle Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Kasstan, Jonathan R.
    2019 Emergent sociolinguistic variation in severe language endangerment. Language in Society48.685–720. 10.1017/S0047404519000472
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404519000472 [Google Scholar]
  13. Hildebrandt, Kristine A.; Carmen Jany; and Wilson Silva
    2017 Introduction: Documenting Variation in Endangered Languages. Language Documentation & Conservation13.1–5.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Kendall, Maurice George
    1955Rank Correlation Methods. New York: Hafner Publishing Co.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Ladefoged, Peter; and Keith Johnson
    2011A Course in Phonetics, Sixth Edition. International Edition. Canada: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Lambert, Wallace E.; Richard Hodgson; Robert C. Gardner; and Samuel Fillenbaum
    1960 Evaluational reactions to spoken languages. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology60.44–51. 10.1037/h0044430
    https://doi.org/10.1037/h0044430 [Google Scholar]
  17. Lee, Nala H.
    2014 A grammar of Baba Malay with sociophonetic considerations. Manoa: University of Hawai’i PhD dissertation.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. 2019 Peranakans in Singapore: Responses to language endangerment and documentation. (Ed.) Mário Pinharanda-Nunes and Cardoso, Hugo C.Language Documentation & Conservation. Special issue on Documentation and conservation of contact languages in Southeast Asia and East Asia: Current issues and ongoing initiatives19.123–140.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. 2020 Utilizing the Matched-guise as a Method of Examining Perceptual Change in an Endangered Creole. Applied Linguistics. 10.1093/applin/amaa011
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amaa011 [Google Scholar]
  20. Levon, Erez
    2014 Categories, stereotypes, and the linguistic perception of sexuality. Language in Society43.539–566. 10.1017/S0047404514000554
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404514000554 [Google Scholar]
  21. Lim, Lisa
    2016 The art of losing: Beyond java, patois and postvernacular vitality – Repositioning the periphery in global Asian ecologies. Endangered languages and languages in danger: Issues of documentation, policy, and language rights, ed. byLuna Filipović and Martin Pütz, 283–312. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/impact.42.12lim
    https://doi.org/10.1075/impact.42.12lim [Google Scholar]
  22. Mansfield, John; and James Stanford
    2017 Documenting Sociolinguistic Variation in Lesser- studied Indigenous Communities: Challenges and Practical Solutions. Language Documentation & Conservation13.116–136.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. McCune, Keith Michael
    1985The internal structure of Indonesian roots. Jakarta: Badan Penyelenggara Seri Nusa, Universitas Katolik Indonesia Atma Jaya.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. McLeod, A. Ian
    2014 Kendall. R package version 2.2CRAN.R-project.org/packge=kendall
  25. Meyerhoff, Miriam
    2019 Unnatural bedfellows? The sociolinguistic analysis of variation and language documentation. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand49. Taylor & Francis. 229–241. doi:  10.1080/03036758.2019.1619599
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03036758.2019.1619599 [Google Scholar]
  26. Ohala, John J.
    1994 The frequency code underlies the sound-symbolic use of voice pitch. Sound symbolism, ed. ByLeanne Hinton, Johanna Nichols and John J. Ohala, 222–236. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Omar, Asmah Haji
    1986 Sociolinguistic varieties of Malay. The Fergusonian impact: In honor of Charles A. Ferguson on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Sociolinguistics and the Sociology of Language Vol. 2, ed. byJoshua A. Fishman, Andrée Tabouret-Keller, Michael Clyne, Bh. Krishnamurti, and Mohamed Abdulaziz, 191–206. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Plichta, Bartłomiej
    2013 Akustyk: Speech analysis and synthesis plug-in for Praat. Previously available at: github.com/akustyk
  29. Poedjosoedarmo, Soepomo
    1968 Javanese speech levels. Indonesia6. 10.2307/3350711
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3350711 [Google Scholar]
  30. Pratt, Teresa
    2020 Embodying “tech”: Articulatory setting, phonetic variation, and social meaning. Journal of Sociolinguistics24.328–349. doi:  10.1111/josl.12369
    https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12369 [Google Scholar]
  31. Şahin, Hülya
    2015 Cross-linguistic influences: Dutch in contact with Papiamento and Turkish. LOT Dissertations Series, 405. Utrecht: Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Sapir, Edward
    1929 A study in phonetic symbolism. Journal of Experimental Psychology12. US: Psychological Review Company. 225–239. doi:  10.1037/h0070931
    https://doi.org/10.1037/h0070931 [Google Scholar]
  33. Silverstein, Michael
    1995 Relative motivation in denotational and indexical sound symbolism of Wasco-Wishram Chinookan. Sound Symbolism, ed. byJohanna Nichols, John J. Ohala, and Leanne Hinton, 40–60. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/sound-symbolism/relative-motivation-in-denotational-and-indexical-sound-symbolism-of-wascowishram-chinookan/6B073730B8FF6F5DC8F7FD0FAE10989A.   10.1017/CBO9780511751806.004
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511751806.004 [Google Scholar]
  34. Stevens, Alan M.
    1965 Language levels in Madurese. Language41.294–302. 10.2307/411879
    https://doi.org/10.2307/411879 [Google Scholar]
  35. Tan, Chee Beng
    1979Baba and Nyonya: a study of the ethnic identity of the Chinese Peranakan in Malacca. New York: Cornell University.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Wessing, Robert
    1974 Language levels in Sundanese. Man9.5–22. 10.2307/2800032
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2800032 [Google Scholar]
  37. Willemsen, Jeron; and Ehm Hjort Miltersen
    2020 The expression of vulgarity, force, severity and size: phonaesthemic alternations in Reta and in other languages. Studies in Language. In press. 10.1075/sl.19073.wil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sl.19073.wil [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): acoustic; Baba Malay; creole; matched-guise; perceptual; register; sound symbolism; style
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error