The Functions Of Discourse Particles English Language Essay

Harmonizing to Loraine K. Obler and Kris Gjerlow ( Language and the Brain,1999, pp. 131-132 ) , many bilinguals, in add-on to talking two or more linguistic communications fluently, have ability to use elements of both linguistic communications when talking with another bilingual and this is known as code-switching and it is governed by internalized regulations. Code-switching is a really normal phenomenon in many parts of the universe and one has ever to take into history the differentiation between, on the one manus, community ( or national ) and the other single bilingualism and multilingualism and they are non necessary closely related. ( Pride, The Social Meaning of Language, 1971, p. 26 ) There are many types of code-switching such as ticket shift, intrasentential shift and intersentential shift.

Kamisah Ariffin and Shameem Rafik Galea ( Code Switching as a Communication Device in Conversation ) found that their topics employ codification shift as a personal communicating scheme. The schemes they employed are signalling societal relationships and linguistic communication penchants, rid ofing troubles, bordering discourse, contrasting personalisation and objectification, conveying cultural-expressive message, dramatizing cardinal words, take downing linguistic communication barriers, keeping rightness of context, demoing rank and association with others and reinterring messages.

What is Malayan English?

Malayan English or more normally known as Manglish, is the conversational version of English spoken in Malaysia and it is similar to Singlish, which is Singapore English. While Bahasa Malaysia is the national linguistic communication, English is still widely used and is the 2nd linguistic communication in Malaysia. Many Malay words are being introduced into Manglish. The most common illustration is suffixing a sentence with the -lah atom which does non hold any specific significance on the sentence. Besides the influence of Bahasa Malaysia, there are besides influence from other linguistic communications and idioms like Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese and Tamil in Malayan English.

Language as Social Semiotic

Halliday ( 1973, 1985 ) proposed a “ systemic, functional ” position of linguistic communication which sees it in the societal map it serves. He believes that linguistic communication is a systematic resource for showing significance in context, non the set of all possible grammatical sentences. ( Jordan, Theory Construction in Second Language Acquisition, 2004, p.6 ) He believes that there are two chief maps of linguistic communication which are ‘ideational map ‘ and ‘the interpersonal map ‘ . ‘Ideational map ‘ allows people to cover with their thoughts, positions and feelings on a peculiar capable whereas ‘interpersonal map ‘ allows people to cover with each other. He believes that the societal map of the linguistic communications is more of import than the grammatical facets of the linguistic communications. For illustration, a individual may non be able to build a grammatically right sentence but he/she is able to convey their thought efficaciously and is apprehensible by others.

Communication Accommodation Theory

Harmonizing to Howard Giles and Peter F. Powesland, “ adjustment through address can be regarded as an effort on the portion of a talker to modify or mask his character in order to do it more acceptable to the individual addressed ” . ( Speech Style and Social Evaluation, 1975, p. 158 ) When we speak to people from different age, position, civilization, etc, we tend to exchange to a manner which the individual we are talking to is comfy in. For illustration, when talking to babes, we tend to utilize simpler words and shorter sentences and this is called ‘baby talk ‘ . On the other manus, when talking to a professor, we tend to exchange to a formal linguistic communication and usage slangs in the field that we specialise in.

Maya Khemlani David ( Tolerance and Communication in Multi-ethnic Malaysia ) found that the atoms ‘lah ‘ and ‘meh ‘ are used in informal scenes to mean accent on something or to soften a address act like petitions. The informations collected from her research found that even though the Chinese pupils in that peculiar school are proficient in English, they tend to code switch for many grounds such as to accent, to cite person else, for distancing or doing a formal ailment and to mean solidarity with members of their group. Hence, she concluded that her findings show that people from other cultural groups accommodate and exchange to a linguistic communication they are comfy in when pass oning with each other.

It is really common for us to utilize the atoms ‘lah ‘ , ‘ah ‘ , ‘mah ‘ , etc in our day-to-day life because we are so used to them and we frequently use them in our day-to-day conversation. These atoms merely exist in Malayan English and Singapore English. However, what are the maps of these atoms? Hence, this paper is traveling to analyze the maps of these atoms in a conversation.


A 15 minute conversation was recorded and transcribed. The conversation was among four ladies aged 24 and they are all university alumnuss. They are adept in English and Bahasa Malaysia. Besides that, they are besides adept in their female parent lingua. The ground this conversation is used is because it was a insouciant conversation among them. Casual conversation is chosen over formal interviews because we tend to exchange to a formal linguistic communication when we are in a formal scene. Hence, the consequence of the survey will non be accurate because in standard English, we do non utilize the atoms. These atoms merely exist in insouciant conversations because there is a demand for the talkers to suit with each other.

The written text was analysed for the discourse atoms used throughout the 15 minute conversation.

Consequences and Discussion


Number of times




You apply where ah?

Your male parent thrust ah?

Three or four ah.






Haiya, merely now we talked about Patricia ‘s picture, we should enter mah.



Yea lah, haiyo.

Haiyo, that one another large narrative lah.



Merely now he came horaˆ¦

Then hor, he eat a batch you knowaˆ¦



Merely state lah.

I think is last infinitesimal work lah.

It ‘s ever like that one lah.



I do n’t cognize leh.

The clasp is like, do n’t cognize lehaˆ¦



Two lor got subtitle.

The 2nd twenty-four hours one Oklahoma lor, senyap lor.



Lagi syok mah.

Orang Teluk Intan mah all right lah.

They should advert mah they give one weekaˆ¦



What are you making Weis?



Eh, so nice wor Pangkor.

Cantik wor tempat tu.

I forgotten already wor.

From the written text, 12 atoms were identified, viz. ‘ah ‘ , ‘aiyah ‘ , ‘haiya ‘ , ‘haiyo ‘ , ‘hor ‘ , ‘lah ‘ , ‘leh ‘ , ‘lor ‘ , ‘mah ‘ , ‘wei ‘ , and ‘wor ‘ . Based on the consequence we can detect that the atom ‘lah ‘ is the most often used atom followed by ‘ah ‘ , ‘mah ‘ , ‘wor ‘ , ‘loh ‘ , ‘hor ‘ , ‘leh ‘ , ‘haiyo ‘ , ‘aiyah ‘ , ‘wei ‘ and ‘haiya ‘ . Most of the atoms derived from Chinese looks like ‘mah ‘ , ‘wor ‘ , ‘lor ‘ , ‘hor ‘ , ‘leh ‘ , ‘haiyo ‘ , ‘aiyah ‘ , ‘wei ‘ and ‘haiya ‘ . On the other manus, atom ‘lah ‘ derived from Malay look.

The consequences show that the atoms can be divided into five classs harmonizing to their maps which are ; inquiring a inquiry, confirming a statement, showing letdown, explicating something and expressing uncertainness.



Asking a inquiry

Ah, Wei

Confirming a statement

Ah, lah, mah

Expressing letdown

Aiyah, haiya, haiyo

Explaining something

Hor, wor

Stress the obvious


Expressing uncertainness


Particle ‘ah ‘ which is a common look in Chinese, maps as filler or interrupting points and it is used to convey out a inquiry force like “ No point assisting friends who are non interested, do you hold with that, ah? ” ( Mohan K. Muniandy et Al, 2010 ) The information collected shows that the topics tend to attach the atom ‘ah ‘ and ‘wei ‘ in their inquiries like “ Your male parent thrust ah? ” and “ What are you making wei? ” Besides that, the information besides shows that atom ‘ah ‘ is used when the talker affirms a statement like “ Three or four ah. ”

Particle ‘lah ‘ derived from conversational Malay and they have assorted maps. For illustration, they are used in declaratory sentences whose maps may be termed ‘informational ‘ , which is to state the talker ‘s intent is to allow the addressee know something like “ Aku adenosine deaminase assignment lah ” . ( Goddard, 1994 ) This atom ‘lah ‘ is now common characteristic of conversational Malaysian or Singapore English and they are used widely in conversations. From the information collected, we can see that the talkers used the atom ‘lah ‘ when they are confirming a statement like “ I think is last infinitesimal work lah ” . The talker was seeking to state her addressee that she feels that the job caused was due to last infinitesimal work.

Particle ‘mah ‘ derived from Chinese and it has similar map with ‘lah ‘ that is to confirm a statement like “ They should advert mah they give one hebdomad… ” which means that if the individual addressed in the conversation is given one hebdomad to settle something, she should be informed earlier by the relevant governments.

Atoms ‘aiyah ‘ , ‘haiya ‘ and ‘haiyo ‘ have the same map, which is to show letdown. For illustration, “ Haiya, merely now we talked about Patricia ‘s picture, we should enter mah ” shows that the talker is showing letdown because she did non enter their conversation on her friend ‘s picture cartridge holder. A browse into Urban Dictionary shows that the look ‘aiyah ‘ originates from the Cantonese look of letdown or displeasure when something bad or incorrect happens.

Wee ( 2002 ) noted that Cantonese has a atom ‘lo ‘ which shows some similarities with Singapore English ‘lor ‘ . Hence, atom ‘lor ‘ might arise from Cantonese. There are legion maps of atom ‘lor ‘ but harmonizing to the illustrations from the written text, atom ‘lor ‘ was uttered when the talker was seeking to explicating something that is obvious to the other talkers. For illustration, “ Two lor got subtitle. ” Hence, ‘lor ‘ in this illustration is to ‘stress the obvious ‘ . ( Wee, 2002 )

When explicating something, the topics tend to utilize atoms ‘hor ‘ and ‘wor ‘ like “ I forgotten already wor ” . The talker is seeking to explicate that she has forgotten the of import information when she was asked about something.

Particle ‘leh ‘ was used when the topics was explicating uncertainness. It is besides originate from Cantonese. For illustration, one of the topics uttered “ I do n’t cognize leh ” when she was asked about something because she was unsure on what is go oning or how to reply the inquiry asked.


We can detect that most of the sentences uttered by the topics were non grammatically correct. However, harmonizing to Halliday, the significances conveyed in the vocalizations were more of import than the grammatical facet of it.

There are legion grounds why the topics code switch to the atoms when discoursing in an informal state of affairs. The chief ground lies in the Communication Accommodation Theory whereby the topics accommodate with each other by utilizing the atoms in the sentences they utter and this is known as convergence adjustment. This is because, they are from different ethnicity and have different female parent lingua, so they need a common linguistic communication to pass on efficaciously and Malayan English is chosen over Standard English because they are comfy pass oning in Malayan English.

From the information collected, we can detect that most of the atoms derived from Chinese, specifically the Cantonese idiom and besides from Bahasa Malaysia. Two of the topics are Indians but they do non utilize any atoms that originated from Tamil. One possible ground is that these atoms are widely used in their community hence they picked up these atoms and utilize them in their conversation to add a better ‘feel ‘ towards the topic they are speaking about.

There are limited research surveies sing to the usage of the atoms in Malayan English. Not much research has been done to place the maps of the atoms in our Malayan context. There is a demand to hold research surveies that can place beginnings and maps of the atoms right. There are besides inquiries left unreciprocated in this subject like how does a individual know what atom to utilize when discoursing? As mentioned above, most of the atoms originate from the Cantonese idiom, so, how does a individual from a different ethnicity understand and cognize what atom to utilize when he/she communicates with other people?

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