The study of Sri Lanka Malay has focussed on the genesis scenario, where theories of creolization (Smith et al., 2004; Smith & Paauw, 2006) with a dominant role of Tamil compete with theories of convergence (Bakker, 2006; Ansaldo, 2008), which allow for a more important role of Sinhala. This paper assesses and reevaluates the empirical data brought forward by both sides and contributes more empirical data on parallels with Sinhala. These parallels are partly due to substrate reinforcement (Siegel, 1998) of marginal structures found in Malay varieties, partly they are clear calques on Sinhala patterns. Some structures must be analysed as the result of Early Sinhala Influence during the colonial period, while for others, a later development following socio-political changes after independence is possible (Late Sinhala Influence). The paper argues that SLM changes towards Sinhala at both periods can be seen as a kind of metatypy comparable to other language contact settings in Eurasia and Papua.
In his two contributions to this issue, Ian Smith nicely sets out criteria to establish language contact. Unfortunately, a rigorous application of the standards listed by Thomason (2001), which he endorses, is detrimental to his argumentation based on the Tamil accusative. Smith furthermore argues that phonological and syntactic influence should go together. This is intended to discredit Sinhala influence, but closer scrutiny of the argument shows that it actually discredits Tamil influence.
Smith’s papers furthermore are not informed by the socio-historical data and analysis presented in Nordhoff (2009), which are not compatible with his approach. Furthermore, Smith lists a phonological analysis based on syllable weight as a desideratum; such an analysis is also already found in Nordhoff 2009 and should have been consulted.
The Genesis of Sri Lanka Malay: A Case of Extreme Language Contact, the synchrony and diachrony of Sri Lanka Malay are investigated from a variety of angles: Experts on South Asia, South East Asia, Creole Studies, Areal Linguistics, Typology, and Sociolinguistics all contribute their share to a truly global analysis of one of the most extreme cases of language contact, where the Malays changed the whole morphosyntax of their language in as little as just over three centuries.
The genesis of Sri Lanka Malay informs theories of language contact, language change, and 'creolization', as well as sociolinguistics, language policy and planning and a critical analysis of the 'endangered language' discourse.