Language use among Malaysian Tamil youth

Nalliannan, Pawathy and Perumal, Thanalachime and Pillai, Stefanie (2021) Language use among Malaysian Tamil youth. Sustainable Multilingualism, 19 (1). pp. 69-93. ISSN 2335-2019, DOI

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Most studies on the language use of Malaysian Tamils focus on the upkeep of the Tamil language. There is, however, a dearth of investigations into language use in a multilingual context among the younger generation of speakers. The present study aims to fill this gap by using Fishman's (1972) domain model to examine the language used by Tamil youth in intra-group communication in seven domains. Data were collected from 109 questionnaires, 42 audio-recordings of natural conversations and 40 interviews. The findings revealed that in four domains, which were the family, friendship, religion, and neighbourhood, Tamil is used more frequently. The highest usage of the language is predominantly among friends. However, there was a decreasing use of Tamil in the family domain among the younger generations with many married participants claiming to use English rather than Tamil as the home language. This does not bode well for the maintenance of Tamil as a first language in the future. The findings show how participants' use of Tamil, English and Malay is linked to concepts of identity, solidarity, and their perceptions of these languages. The findings also point to the development of a localised variety of Tamil reflective of the Malaysian cultural landscape. © 2021 Pawathy Nalliannan et al., published by Sciendo.

Item Type: Article
Funders: None
Uncontrolled Keywords: Language choice; Language domains; Language use; Malaysian Tamil youth
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Languages and Linguistics
Depositing User: Ms Zaharah Ramly
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2023 03:44
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2023 03:44

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