Nonstandard English Spelling on Social Media as an Index for Malaysian Identity

Authors: Nur Amirah Zakaria , Farrah Diebaa Rashid Ali (International Islamic University Malaysia, Malaysia)
Speakers: Nur Amirah Zakaria
Strand: Discourse Analysis
Session Type: General Session


Malaysia is a multi-racial country where its citizens of different mother tongues are living and thriving for social and economic success together. To facilitate communication between these people, Bahasa Melayu or Malay language has been gazetted by the government as the official language of Malaysia while English is the second language. Due to its status, English is widely used not only at the workplaces and education institutions but also across social media. As the Malaysians swiftly switch and mix between their mother tongue, Malay language and English, it is evident in their written social media contents and posts that they sometimes opt for the non-standard spelling of English words. This paper investigated the factors behind those nonstandard spelling in written facebook posts and contents uploaded by Malaysians. A total of 100 posts and contents were randomly collected between May and June 2022. It was discovered that these nonstandard spellings¬† go beyond one’s fat-thumb and ignorance, but most importantly they serve as identity makers and social bonding tools.

Keywords: Language and identity, Malaysia, nonstandard English spelling