The Influence of Gender and Ethnicity on the Choice of Language in the Transaction Domain of Language Use: The Case of Undergraduates

Mehdi Granhemat, Ain Nadzimah Abdullah, Chan Swee Heng, Helen Tan


Multilingual individuals, consciously or unconsciously, are often confronted with having to select one linguistic code over another from within their linguistic repertoires. The choice of a proper linguistic code enables effective communication and could also lead to the promotion of solidarity among interlocutors. The focus of this study was to examine the influence of gender and ethnicity on the choices of languages of Malaysian youths in the transaction domain of language use. In sociolinguistic studies, Domain as a theoretical concept can be employed to explain how language choices and some individual factors—in case of this study gender and ethnicity—related to language choices of multilinguals. Based on a random proportional stratified sampling strategy, a total of 498 undergraduate local students in a Malaysian public university were selected as respondents of the study. The male and female respondents mostly belonged to the three main ethnic groups, i.e. the Malays, Chinese, and Indians. Also some other ethnic minority groups’ members were included in the study. Data about the demographic profiles of the respondents and the choices of languages in the transaction domain of language use was collected through a self administrated questionnaire survey. SPSS software was used to run analyses such as determining the respondents’ most used languages and Chi-Square Test to find out the relationships between variables. According to the results, the linguistic situation in Malaysia is similar to a diglossic situation. Besides, the factor of ethnicity was found to be influential in the choice and use of linguistic codes among the Malaysian youths. But gender was not found to be a determinant of language choice in the transaction domain of language use.



Multilinguals, transaction domain of language use, choices of languages, ethnicity, gender

Full Text:



Ary, D. Jacobs, L. C., Razavieh, A. & Sorensen, C. (2006). Introduction to Research in Education (7th ed.). Belmont, Ca, USA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Asmah, Hj. Omar, (1994). Nationaism And Exoglossia: The Case Study of English in Malaysia. In A. Hassan (Ed.), Language Planning In South Asia, (pp.66-85). Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Education.

Bahaman Abu Samah & Turiman Suandi, (1999). Statistic for Communication Research. Institute for Distance Education and Learning (IDEAL). Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Bartlett, Kotrlik, & Higgins, (2001). Organizational Research: Determining Appropriate Sample Size in Survey Research. Information Technology, learning, and Performance Journal, 19(1): 43-50.

Calder, B. J., Philips, L. W. & Tybout, A. M. (1982). The Concept of External Validity. Journal of Consumer Research, 9: 240-244.

Chan, Hui-chen. (1994). Language Shift in Taiwan: social and political determents. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Georgetown University, Washington D. C.

Cochran, W. G. (1977). Sampling Techniques (3rd ed.). New York, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Cooper, R. L. (1989). Language Planning and Social Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

David, Maya Khemlani (2008). Language Choice of Urban Sino-Indians in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Migracijske i etničke teme, 3: 217–233.

Ferguson, G. (2006). Language Planning and Education. Edinburgh University Press.

Fishman, J. A. (1972). The relationship between Micro-and Macro-Sociolinguistics in the Study of Who Speaks What Language to Whom and When. In A.S. Dil (Ed.), Language in Sociocultural Change (pp. 244-267). California: Stanford University Press.

Fishman, J. (1968a). Sociolinguistic perspective on the study of bilingualism. Linguistics, 39: 21-49.

Hafriza Burhanudeen, (2006). Language and Social Behavior: Voices from the Malay World. KL: PENERBIT UNIVERSITI KEBANGSAAN MALAYSIA adalah anggota.

Ho, K. T. & Lin, H. C. (2011). Cultural Identity and language: A Proposed Framework for Cultural Globalization and Cultural Glocalization. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 32(1): 55-69.

Hudson, R. A. (1996). Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kemp, C. (2009). Defining multilingualism. In Larissa Aronin & Britta Hufeisen (Ed.), The exploration of multilingualism (pp. 11-26). Amsterdam: John Benjamin Publishing Company.

Linneman, J. T. (2011). Social Statistics: The Basic and beyond. New York and London: Routledge.

Lu, Li-jung. (1988). A survey of language attitudes, language use and ethnic identity in Taiwan. (Unpublished Master Thesis). Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan.

Mee, Ling Lai, (2011). Cultural identity and language attitudes-into the second decade of postcolonial Hong kong. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, (32): 3, 249-264.

Mensah, O., Emmanual, A. & Nyarko, G. (2012). The role of language in ethnic identity: The case of Akwamu in Ghana. African Journal of History and Culture, 4(5): 74-79.

Palmer, C. (2014). Ethnic minority advertising and cultural values: a Maori perspective. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Auckland University of Technology. New Zealand.

Rahman, Abu Rashid Mostafizir, Chan, S. H. & Ain Nadzimah Abdullah. (2008). What Determine the Choice of Language with Friends and Neighbors? The Case of Malaysian University Undergraduate. LANGUAGE IN INDIA, 8: 1-16.

Ridge, B. (2004). Bangsa Malaysia and Recent Malaysian English Language Policies. Current issues in language planning, 5(4): 407-423.

Wong, Fook Fei., Lee, King Siong., Lee, Su Kim., & Azizah Yaacob (2012). English use as an identity maker among Malaysian undergraduate. The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, 18(1): 145-155.

Yeh, Hsi-nan. Chan, Hui-chen. & Cheng, Yuh-show. (2004). Language Use in Taiwan: Language Proficiency and Domain Analysis. Journal of Taiwan Normal University: Humanities & Social science, 49(1): 75-108.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.