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Language change in Maltese English: The influence of age and parental languages

Krug, Manfred; Sönning, Lukas

In this study, which is based on questionnaire data collected in 2013 from 430 Mal-
tese informants, we investigate ongoing language change in Maltese English. We
concentrate on 63 pairs of lexical variants that are known to differ in usage be-
tween British English and American English (e.g. vacation vs. holiday). Overall,
informants clearly tend towards BrE usage. Regardless of the statistical approach
we adopt, our studies show consistently apparent-time trends towards a less ex-
clusively British English usage in Malta, converging on a more globalized usage
of lexical items, in particular among the youngest cohorts. This confirms trends
reported for older Maltese English data (collected in 2008; see Krug 2015). While
Age emerges as the most important factor in our data, lexical choices are also sen-
sitive to the native languages of the informants’ parents. When the mother’s na-
tive language(s) includes English, the informants’ lexical choices are biased in the
expected direction, figuring in an increase in Britishness of the informants. Infor-
mants whose parents’ L1 is neither English nor Maltese show the highest degree
of linguistic globalization. Overall, the native language(s) of the mother appeared
to be more influential than that of the father.

 

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