Among different languages used in Southeast Asia, which language has the most and least loanwords from English in lexicon?

In different languages, I assume Tagalog, Malay, Thai, Vietnamese.

I know all languages mentioned here have been affected by English more or less. But I don't know which is the most and least affected one, and the degree of the influence.

Is there any study on this domain?

  • 1
    @sumelic Yes I meant loanwords. In Wikipedia article on loanwords in Malay, you can see some English words. In Veitnamese, there seem some English loanwords, too, nowadays. So these languages are at least somewhat affected by English.
    – Blaszard
    Oct 24, 2016 at 17:29
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    I'm saying that the idea of generic comparison of words doesn't make any sense, unless you say what your standard of comparison is. It looks to me like you've mis-stated the question, and you mean "Which languages have borrowed the most words from English". Until you have a specific question, there can't be any "sources".
    – user6726
    Oct 24, 2016 at 18:01
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    The answer would surely have to be Singlish, the English-based creole (actually I think it's probably a mixed language rather than a creole) of Singapore. Oct 24, 2016 at 21:57
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    @user6726 Are you kidding? You didn't say that. All you said is a set of jargons which I don't understand and so I asked it but you didn't even answer my questions. And now what are you talking about in "sources", which no one here did mention?
    – Blaszard
    Oct 25, 2016 at 13:55
  • 2
    What's up with all those downvotes and close votes? The question is clear, answerable and on-topic.
    – michau
    Oct 26, 2016 at 10:12

1 Answer 1


The languages with the most loanwords from English: There are several candidates, depending on how you define "loanword" (which is not quite clear in the case of creoles), "language" (as opposed to a dialect), and how you define "South-East Asia" (does Papua New Guinea belong to it?). In general, there are quite a few South East Asian countries where English is used a lot, but a good country to look for the language most influenced by English is Singapore. In most other countries, such as Malaysia and Philippines, the use of English is in decline. This is not the case in Singapore.

  • Singlish (Colloquial Singapore English) is one of several South-East Asian English-based creoles and uses a huge number of English-derived words. Since it's a creole, some people may not agree to call them loanwords. Moreover, even though it is widely used, few people have it as their first language (but there are some). It is also possible to view Singlish as a dialect of English. This issue is very hard to resolve, as there is a whole continuum between the basilect and the acrolect.

  • Tok Pisin is without doubt a language, separate from English and with many native speakers. But it is an English-based creole, too, so we still have the problem with defining what a "loanword" is. There is definitely a very large number of English-derived words in Tok Pisin. The language is spoken in Papua New Guinea, so you need to consider how you define South-East Asia: some definitions may include New Guinea and some may not.

  • If you want to exclude English-based creoles, it's still likely that the language we're looking for is from Singapore, due to the use and status of English there. A good candidate is Singdarin (Colloquial Singaporean Mandarin), which is a language clearly separate from English, has a large number of English-derived words and there is no controversy that we can call them loanwords.

The question about the language with the fewest loanwords from English is much easier to answer. It is Sentinelese, spoken on the North Sentinel Island in the Great Andaman archipelago. It is the language of the few remaining uncontacted tribes, and therefore, even though nobody outside the island knows the language, we can be quite sure that the number of loanwords from English is 0.

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