05 November 2012

Banyak Mixing

Mixing between English and Malay is the norm in informal language in Brunei. As an example, see this sentence from Tiger Lim's blog, talking about a shop selling rims for the wheels of cars even in the evening:

Wow their rims macam selling at pasar malam one... banyak lah!!!

Note the use of

  • macam ('like') : is this influenced by like in English?
  • pasar malam ('night market') : this is commonly used in English, so it might even be regarded as a word borrowed from Malay into the local variety of English
  • banyak ('lots') : I wonder what triggers the use of a Malay word rather than an English equivalent, such as 'So many'.
  • lah (the final discourse particle) : is it derived from Malay or Hokkien or both? Is it more common in the language of ethnically Chinese people (such as Tiger Lim), or is it equally common among Brunei Malays?

Note how many interesting linguistic questions can arise out of a single sentence.