Two Englishes diverged in the Philippines? A substratist account of Manila Chinese English


Wilkinson Daniel Wong Gonzales & Mie Hiramoto


Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages


Year published:

Journal Article









Manila Chinese English, Sino-Philippine language contact, corpus linguistics, intergroup variation, world Englishes, Philippine Englishes


Although World Englishes (WE) scholarship is concerned with the study of English varieties in different social contexts, there is a tendency to treat postcolonial ones as homogenous regional phenomena (e.g., Philippine English). Few researchers have discussed variation and social differentiation in detail with empirical evidence. Thus, in order to understand how layers of different varieties of WE operate within a specific group of speakers, this study takes an empirical intergroup approach from a substratist framework. This study explores distinctive features of a metropolitan Manila variety of Chinese English used in the Philippines, Manila Chinese English (MCE), an English contact variety used by Manila Chinese Filipinos. After comparing the frequencies of selected features observed in a 52,000-word MCE database with frequencies in Manila English and American English corpora, this study found that a distinct variety – MCE – most likely emerged in the 1960s due to the extensive contact between general Manila English and local tongues of Chinese Filipinos such as (Hybrid) Hokkien and Tagalog, which function as MCE’s substrate languages. This study takes into account MCE’s structure, sources, and genesis, and discusses MCE in relation to Philippine English as positioned in Schneider’s dynamic model, to demonstrate how intergroup variations coexist but take divergent paths within a WE variety.

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