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Whiter the Indigenous Languages of Brunei Darussalam?

Peter W. Martin
Oceanic Linguistics
Vol. 34, No. 1 (Jun., 1995), pp. 27-43
DOI: 10.2307/3623110
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3623110
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Whiter the Indigenous Languages of Brunei Darussalam?
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Abstract

Rapid social change over the whole island of Borneo has been accompanied by a shift away from many of the smaller languages toward the socially more dominant languages. This paper looks at the changing linguistic scene in Brunei Darussalam, the small sultanate sandwiched between the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah on the northern coast of Borneo. Although the population of Brunei only slightly exceeds a quarter of a million people, it is nevertheless a linguistically-diverse country with at least eight Austronesian languages spoken in the country. The paper aims to provide some statement on the present vitality of the indigenous languages of Brunei, a country hitherto almost totally neglected by philologists. The study looks at the sociolinguistic history of the Bruneian speech community from a number of angles. After first identifying the languages of Brunei (including a number that have disappeared from use), the study considers a number of environmental factors (historical, demographic, economic, political, and religious) that have affected the linguistic ecology of Brunei. The final section of the paper considers actual language use within the linguistic ecosystem, and the changes that are occurring in the languages and in the use of langues in Brunei.

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