20 April 2011

Quotative macam

The occurrence of "quotative like" is widely reported in Englishes around the world. The Cambridge Grammar of English (Carter and McCarthy, 2006, pp. 102, 823) gives the following examples from their corpus of spoken British English:
So this bloke came up to me and I'm like 'Go away, I don't want to dance'.
He keeps coming and trying to kiss me, and I'm like, 'Go away! Go away!'
I was like, 'Oh, thank God for that!' you know.
This usage of like to introduce direct speech is reported to occur mainly among young speakers, so it would sound quite strange if anyone over 40 tried to use the pattern.

It seems that the same pattern occurs in Malay, at any rate the variety found in Brunei. My Masters student, Ish, suggested the following example:
Ia   macam, 'Apa   kan   tu?'
She   like     what (particle) that
"She was like, 'What's that?'"
It seems probable that this use of macam ('like') to introduce direct speech is directly influenced by English, though I have no evidence to confirm this.