Interface of Ethnicities in Communication: The Malaysian Sino-Indian (Chindian) Family in Perspective

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Mohd Yahya Mohamed Arifin Rona Chandran


Communication, especially verbal communication, is an important medium in the formation of one’s identity. It has also been widely used as a tool to inculcate the spirit of patriotism and loyalty among the people of a nation state. This paper discusses the language that the Malaysian Sino-Indians or better known locally as “Chindian” use for their communicative purposes in daily life. Careful analysis and close observation of the data obtained could serve as important leverage points in nation building and fostering interethnic understanding. Based on qualitative data obtained from observations and in-depth interviews conducted on 31 biethnic Sino-Indian participants, this research finds that an array of languages is considered as their native language by the Malaysian Sino-Indians but a strong preference towards the English language is evident. Besides English being their main tool for communication, an array of other languages is used to fulfill their communicative needs. This causes heritage languages to be no longer considered as the native language by the majority of the biethnic Sino-Indians. This trend of communicative preference among the Malaysian Sino-Indians may contribute towards the occurrence of language shift.


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MOHAMED ARIFIN, Mohd Yahya; CHANDRAN, Rona. Interface of Ethnicities in Communication: The Malaysian Sino-Indian (Chindian) Family in Perspective. Malaysian Journal of Media Studies, [S.l.], v. 16, n. 1, p. 39-51, aug. 2017. ISSN 2231-8143. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 04 july 2020.