Sri Lankan Malay

Sri Lankan Malay (SLM) is spoken by approximately 40,000 people. There has so far been no attempt to establish the precise numbers of speakers. In urban areas, it has become increasingly common over the last (approximately) forty years for many younger native speakers to be less fluent and less expressive in SLM than in other languages that they may have acquired as second languages in childhood or simultaneously with SLM, including Sinhala, English, and in a number of areas, Tamil/Shonam. This intergenerational decline in fluency is less evident in several smaller up-country (highland) communities. By contrast, the Malay residents of the southeastern coastal village of Kirinda, consisting of four hundred families, have thus far experienced no intergenerational decline whatsoever, and are effectively SLM-dominant from earliest childhood. There is strong dialect differentiation between (1) the western coastal area including Colombo, (2) the up-country area including Kandy, and (3) the southeastern area including Kirinda and Hambantota. Most of the data I have used in this APiCS contribution, with the exception of a small number of references to Colombo Malay, come from the variety of SLM spoken daily by all generations in Kirinda. This variety is ordinarily referred to by its speakers as Java ("Javanese"). It is the default lect in APiCS. While speakers of the Kirinda variety understand SLM varieties spoken elsewhere on the island, speakers from outside the southeastern region will find some of its vocabulary, functional morphology, and constructions to be unfamiliar or opaque, although rarely to the point of communicative breakdown.

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No. Feature Value % Details Source
No. Feature Value % Details Source

Consonants

bilabial
labiodental
dental
dental/alveolar
dental/alveolar
affricate
palato-alveolar
retroflex
palatal
velar
labial-velar
uvular
glottal
plosive/affricatepbtdt͡sd͡zt͡ʃd͡ʒʈɖcɟkgk͡pg͡bqʔ
aspirated plosive/affricatet͡sʰt͡ʃʰ
glottalized stop/affricateɓt͡sʼt͡ʃʼ
nasalmnɳɲŋ
trill, tap or flaprɾ
fricativeɸβfvθðszʃʒxɣχh
lateral/approximantɬlɭjw

Vowels

frontnear-frontcentralnear-backback
high
higher-mid
mid
lower-mid
low

Special segments

mbprenasalized voiced bilabial plosive - Exists only as a minor allophone

Legend

 Exists (as a major allophone)
 Exists only as a minor allophone
 Exists only in loanwords
 Does not exist
No. Feature Value % Details Source