The use of native lexical items in English texts as a codeswitching strategy

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Abstract

Codeswitching is an important socio-cultural phenomenon in many multilingual and bilingual communities. In Malaysia, where there is a diverse linguistic panorama of speech communities, codeswitching is the norm. Malaysian speakers of English often codeswitch between Malay and English. The use of native words and expressions in Malaysian English is not only restricted to spoken English, but also found in written English. This article, based on a small-scale corpus study of Malaysian English, attempts to describe the use of Malay lexical items in Malaysian English by analysing the occurrence of these native items in texts written by Malaysian speakers of English. It also aims to explain the motivation behind their usage. The study suggests that Malaysian speakers of English use native lexical items in English texts as an intentional codeswitching strategy, motivated by the effects that the use of the native items has on the interpretation of the message.

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