09 May 2011

Language Mixing and Pronouns

I am currently watching a Malay film called Stilleto. One notable feature is the degree of mixing and switching between Malay and English. In fact, the higher the status of the speaker, the more that person tends to use English. It seems as if the ability to mix languages or switch into English regularly is regarded as an indicator of education.

Here is an excerpt, where a suave playboy is talking to the heroine on their first date. The Malay words are in italics, while the English words are in regular font:
I nak bawak you pergi yang mak bapak pun tak tau. It's happy hour time.
"I want to take you where your parents don't know. It's happy hour time."
Apart from the switch to English for the final sentence, note the use of the English pronouns I and you. One reason for this use of English pronouns is that it avoids decisions about which Malay pronouns to use, for example saya (formal) or aku (informal) for the first person pronoun.

Note also the use of 'k' at the end of bawak ('take') and bapak ('dad'). This is not standard Malay and it seems to indicate a glottal stop at the end of the word rather than a full [k].