1. bookVolume 19 (2021): Issue 1 (November 2021)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2335-2027
First Published
01 Jan 2012
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

Language Use Among Malaysian Tamil Youth

Published Online: 15 Nov 2021
Volume & Issue: Volume 19 (2021) - Issue 1 (November 2021)
Page range: 69 - 93
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2335-2027
First Published
01 Jan 2012
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
Summary

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.

Keywords

Aree, M. (2018). A critical review of theoretical perspectives: From language maintenance and shift to postmodern/poststructuralistbi/ multilingualism. Kemanusiaan, 25(1), 141–162. http://web.usm.my/kajh/vol25_1_2018/kajh25012018_07.pdf Search in Google Scholar

Asmah Haji Omar. (1992). The linguistic scenery in Malaysia. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Search in Google Scholar

Asmah Haji Omar (Ed.). (2015). Languages in the Malaysian education system: Monolingual strands in multilingual settings. Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

Baker, C. (2007). Becoming bilingual through bilingual education. In P. Auer & L. Wei (Eds.), Handbook of multilingualism and multilingual communication (pp. 131–152). De Gruyter.10.1515/9783110198553.1.131 Search in Google Scholar

Canagarajah, A. S. (2008). Language shift and the family: Questions from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 12(2), 1–34. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2008.00361.x10.1111/j.1467-9841.2008.00361.x Search in Google Scholar

Canagarajah, A. S. & Wurr, A. J. (2011). Multilingual communication and language acquisition: New research directions. The Reading Matrix, 11(1), 1–15. Search in Google Scholar

David, M. K., & Naji, I. (2000). Do minorities have to abandon their languages? A case study of the Malaysian Tamils. The International Scope Review, 2(3), 1–15. Search in Google Scholar

David, M. K. (2001). The Sindhis of Malaysia: A sociolinguistic study. ASEAN Academic Press. Search in Google Scholar

David, M. K., & Nambiar, M. (2002). Exogamous marriages and out-migration: language shift of the Malayalees in Malaysia. In M. K. David (Ed.), Methodological issues in language maintenance and language shift studies (pp. 125–134). Peter Lang. Search in Google Scholar

David, M. K., Naji, I. M., & Kaur, S. (2003). Language maintenance or language shift among the Punjabi Sikh community in Malaysia? International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 161, 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2003.02610.1515/ijsl.2003.026 Search in Google Scholar

David, Maya Khemlani, Dealwis, Caesar and Alagappar, Ponmalar N. (2010). Ethnic Identity in the Tamil Community of Kuching. In Dipika Mukherjee & Maya Khemlani David (Eds.), National language planning and language shifts in Malaysian minority communities (pp. 43–58). Amsterdam University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Department of Statistics Malaysia. (2010). Population distribution and basic demographic characteristic report 2010. Population and Housing Census. https://newss.statistics.gov.my Search in Google Scholar

Dealwis, C. (2008). Language choice among Dayak Bidayuh undergraduates [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. Universiti Malaya. Search in Google Scholar

Fernandez, S., & Clyne, M. (2007). Tamil in Melbourne. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 28(3), 169–187. https://doi.org/10.2167/jmmd488.010.2167/jmmd488.0 Search in Google Scholar

Fishman, J. A. (1972). Advances in the sociology of language: Volume II: Selected studies and applications. Mouton de Gruyter. Search in Google Scholar

Haberland, H. (2005). Domains and domain loss. In B. Preisler, B., A. Fabricius, H. Haberland, S. Kjærbeck, & K. Risager (Eds.), The consequences of mobility: linguistic and sociocultural contact zones (pp. 227–237). Roskilde University. Search in Google Scholar

Holmes, J. (2013). Introduction to sociolinguistics (4th ed.). Longman Search in Google Scholar

Kanagaretnam, T. (1971). Bahasa Malaysia in Tamil speakers: A linguistic analysis [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. Universiti Malaya. Search in Google Scholar

Labov, W. (1972). Sociolinguistic patterns. Blackwell. Search in Google Scholar

Lim, C. C. (2008). Language choices of Malaysian youth: A case study [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. Universiti Malaya. Search in Google Scholar

Nambiar, M. K. (2007). Language shift in the Malaysian Malayalee community: A study of intra-group variations [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. Universiti Malaya. Search in Google Scholar

Normardhiah, I. (2018). A case on Tamil education in Malaysia: Is Tamil education being sidelined? SHS Web of Conferences, 53(1–12). https://doi.org/10.1051/shsconf/2018530300610.1051/shsconf/20185303006 Search in Google Scholar

Paramasivam, M. (2006). Codeswitching among UPM students: A sociolinguistic perspective [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. Universiti Malaya. Search in Google Scholar

Pillai, S. (2006). Malaysian English as a first language. In M. K. David (Ed.), Language choices and discourse of Malaysian families: Case studies of families in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (pp. 61–75). SIRD. Search in Google Scholar

Pillai, S., Khan, M. H., Ibrahim, I. S., & Raphael, S. (2012). Enhancing employability through industrial training in the Malaysian context. Higher Education, 63(2), 187–204.10.1007/s10734-011-9430-2 Search in Google Scholar

Pillai, S., Soh, W. Y., & Kajita, A. S. (2014). Family language policy and heritage language maintenance of Malacca Portuguese Creole. Language & Communication, 37, 75–85.10.1016/j.langcom.2013.12.003 Search in Google Scholar

Sankar, L. V. (2004). Language shift and maintenance among the Malaysian Iyers [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. Universiti Malaya. Search in Google Scholar

Sandhu, K. S., & Mani, A. (Eds.). (1993). Indian Communities in Southeast Asia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Search in Google Scholar

Saravanan, V. (1998). Language maintenance and language shift in the Tamil-English community. In S. Gopinathan, A. Pakir, A., H. W. Kam, & V. Saravanan (Eds.), Language, society and education in Singapore: Issues and trends (pp. 155–178). Times Academic. Search in Google Scholar

Schiffman, H. F. (2002). Malaysian Tamils and Tamil linguistic culture. Language & Communication, 22(2), 159–169. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0271-5309(01)00024-610.1016/S0271-5309(01)00024-6 Search in Google Scholar

Selvajothi, P. R. (2017). Peralihan dan pengekalan bahasa Tamil dalam kalangan masyarakat Tamil di Kuching, Sarawak. [Tamil language shift and maintenance among the Tamil community in Kuching, Sarawak] [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. Universiti Malaya. Search in Google Scholar

Sreetharan, S. (1996.). The diglossic nature of Tamil and its impact on the learners of Tamil in Malaysia. Journal of Indian Studies, 6, 112–119.10.22452/JIS.vol6no1.10 Search in Google Scholar

Stenström, A. B., & Jørgensen, A. M. (Eds.). (2009). Young speak in a multilingual perspective. John Benjamins. Search in Google Scholar

Centre for Public Policy Studies. (2012). Vernacular schools in Malaysia: A heritage to be celebrated or a hindrance to nation building? (2012, April 23). http://cpps.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Vernacular-Schools-in-Malaysia-2012-Report.pdf Search in Google Scholar

Vollmann, R., & Soon, T. W. (2018). Chinese identities in multilingual Malaysia. Grazer Linguistische Studien, 89, 35–61. http://dx.doi.org/10.25364/04.45:2018.89.3 Search in Google Scholar

Zainuddin, S. Z. B., Pillai, S., Dumanig, F. P., & Phillip, A. (2019). English language and graduate employability. Education+Training, 61(1), 79–93.10.1108/ET-06-2017-0089 Search in Google Scholar

Recommended articles from Trend MD

Plan your remote conference with Sciendo