Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/155982
Title: TOH: LANGUAGE CONTACT, IDENTITY CONSTRUCTION AND THE PROLIFERATION OF CMC AMONGST SINGAPORE AN YOUTH
Authors: HANNAH NAOMI CHEE
Issue Date: 15-Apr-2019
Citation: HANNAH NAOMI CHEE (2019-04-15). TOH: LANGUAGE CONTACT, IDENTITY CONSTRUCTION AND THE PROLIFERATION OF CMC AMONGST SINGAPORE AN YOUTH. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Based on two different sets of data, this thesis investigates how a borrowed Hokkien expression toh has come to be used among the younger generation of Colloquial Singapore English (CSE) speakers. First, a 5-million-word corpus of text messages from Singapore university students provides the primary data for a corpus-assisted quantitative analysis. Second, a systematic online survey with 147 native CSE-speaking participants contributes to the qualitative analysis concerning how toh is undergoing semantic change from the original Hokkien language to CSE. While the older generation reflects a tendency to incorporate toh into their CSE, with meanings beyond the original ‘to fall/collapse’. The innovative meanings include literal and figurative death, where the latter conveys the extremity of the speaker’s emotional or physical state. Also functioning as a discourse marker and an interjection, toh serves as a back-channelling pragmatic marker in CSE conversations. This thesis also proposes several factors that contributed to the shift in the way CSE toh has been used. These factors include: a rise of computer-mediated-communication (e.g., social network platforms, texting) as well as alcohol-involved party culture among some Singapore youths, and compulsory National Service for males. I argue that these factors together with the speaker’s gender and age, contribute to the generation of different meanings of CSE toh. My findings suggest that toh is a tool for identity projection within the younger generation of Singaporeans, among other newly recognised CSE lexicons (e.g., jio 'to invite', shag 'tired', zai 'capable/steady', sia 'a sentence final particle', etc.). That is, the younger Singaporeans claim and embrace their own linguistic tokens that are distinct from those familiar to the older generation CSE speakers. I argue, hence, that younger CSE speakers demonstrate and index their group identity through new CSE expressions, such as toh.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/155982
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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