Keeping Kirinda vital: The endangerment-empowerment dilemma in the documentation of Sri Lanka Malay
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The diasporic Malay communities of Sri Lanka were brought to Sri Lanka through various waves of deportation from Indonesia by the Dutch and British colonial powers. Though lacking official identity, the Sri Lanka Malays (SLM) are characterised by a unique mixed language of trilingual base, often referred to as Sri Lanka Malay creole. In the past, pressure from the country's dominant languages (Sinhala, Tamil and English), as well as negative stigma associated with their own 'creole', has led to different degrees of attrition in the SLM communities. Most recently, a new tendency can be detected: the desire to acquire standard Malay, the national language of Malaysia. From the point of view of language preservation, the tendency of shift towards a standard variety can be seen as yet a higher degree of endangerment for the SLM; at the same time, within an ethnography of empowerment such a shift could mean acquiring a useful economic tool while still preserving their identity in assuming a global Malay one. This paper explores the tension created by these different linguistic ideologies and offers possible resolutions for the field linguist.
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