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VOLUME 1 (1999), ISSUE 2 (WINTER)

 

TRADING IN AN INTERCULTURAL CONTEXT: THE CASE OF MALAYSIA

MAYA DAVID

 

SUMMARY

English is an important second language in multilinguistic Malaysia and foreigners would have little difficulty communicating with Malaysians. This study is designed to explore how in multilingual Malaysia, Malaysians (Malays, Chinese and Indians) actually use and alter their language(s) when interacting with each other. Giles, Taylor and Bourhis (1973) have developed the Accommodation Theory to explain language use, and evaluation in terms of social psychological processes operating at interpersonal levels. Their major focus has been on the language strategies of convergence and divergence. As normative demands of situations are important factors governing language choice this study focuses on language choice in service encounters. One of the aims of the research in observing the language used in such a setting was to determine whether Malaysian vendors converge to the customers' language or vice versa. This field study of actual language behavior in service encounters in the city of Kuala Lumpur disclose that code switching. i.e. the use of two or more codes or languages in an utterance has become an established feature in the Malaysian repertoire of languages. This article also discusses other factors like status, in-group solidarity and linguistic capabilities which have caused the emergence of a distinct linguistic variety i.e. code-switches in the Malaysian speech repertoire.

KEYWORDS

Intercultural Trading - Communication - Malaysia - Language

AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION

Maya DAVID is an associate professor at the University of Malaya, Malaysia, Faculty of Languages and Linguistics.

COPYRIGHT

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