Languages of Brunei

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There are a number of languages spoken in Brunei.[1] The official language of the state of Brunei is Standard Malay, the same Malaccan dialect that is the basis for the standards in Malaysia and Indonesia.[2] This came into force on 29 September 1959, with the signing of Brunei 1959 Constitution.[3]

Standard Malay[edit]

Malay is specified as the national language of Brunei in the constitution of 1959,[4] and its central role in the country is reinforced in the national MIB philosophy (Melayu Islam Beraja, 'Malay Islamic Monarchy').[5]

While the variety of Malay that functions as the national language is not specified, it is generally assumed to be a variety of Standard Malay that is similar to the standard varieties promoted in Malaysia and Indonesia.[6]

In fact, the use of Standard Malay and Brunei Malay can be described under the concept of diglossia,[7] with Standard Malay taking the H(igh) role and being used in formal domains such as teaching and official speeches, while Brunei Malay functions in a L(ow) role, being used in informal domains such as between friends and in local shops.[8]

In terms of pronunciation, the Standard Malay of Brunei is rhotic, so there is an [r] at the end of words such as besar ('big'), and it has [a] rather than [ə] at the end of words such as saya ('I') and utara ('north').[6]

Brunei Malay[edit]

The local dialect, Melayu Brunei (Brunei Malay), is the most widely spoken language.[2] It is spoken by about 266,000 people.[9] About 84% of its words are cognate with Standard Malay, while 94% are reported to be cognate with Kedayan.[1]

Brunei Malay is also spoken as a lingua franca in some parts of East Malaysia such as the Federal Territory of Labuan, the districts of Limbang and Lawas (Sarawak) and the districts of Sipitang, Beaufort, Kuala Penyu and Papar (Sabah).[10] In Brunei, use of Brunei Malay is expanding at the expense of the other indigenous minority languages in Brunei, most of which are under threat of extinction.[11]

Some of the phonological features of Brunei Malay are: /h/ cannot occur in initial position, and there are only three vowels, /i,a,u/.[12] For its syntax, if has been claimed that the verb often occurs in initial position,[13] and there is a distinct set of modal verbs.[14]

English[edit]

English is widely used as a business and official language and it is spoken by a majority of the population in Brunei, though some people have only a rudimentary knowledge of the language.[15] There is one daily English language newspaper, Borneo Bulletin.

The bilingual system of education was introduced in 1985, with the first three years taught in Malay while English was the medium of instruction for most subjects from the fourth year of primary school onward,[16] so all school children have had substantial exposure to English since then. In 2008, the new SPN21 education system was introduced, and from then on, maths and science have been taught in English from the start of primary school, so the role of English is even more firmly established.[15]

The language of the courts is mainly English,[17] though, just as in Malaysia, code-switching between English and Malay is common.[18]

One result of the promotion of both English and Malay in Brunei is that minority languages, such as Tutong and Dusun, tend to get squeezed out. Noor Azam has described the situation using the Malay proverb: Gajah berperang, pelanduk mati di tengah-tengah. ('When elephants fight, the mouse-deer between them dies.')[19]

Some features of the pronunciation of English in Brunei are: the TH sound at the start of words such as thin and think tends to be pronounced as [t];[20] vowel reduction is mostly avoided in function words such as of and that;[15] and there is an increasing incidence of rhoticity.[21][22]

Chinese[edit]

The Chinese minority in Brunei speak a number of Chinese varieties.[23] The main varieties of Chinese spoken include Hokkien, Cantonese and Hakka.[24]

Mandarin is the language of instruction in some Chinese schools, and there are also some radio broadcasts in Mandarin.[24] Mandarin is also used as the lingua franca among the Chinese community.[25]

Minority languages[edit]

Apart from Brunei Malay and Kedayan, the latter which may be considered a dialect of Malay, five indigenous minority ethic groups are officially recognised in Brunei, each with their own language: Tutong, Belait, Dusun, Bisaya, and Lun Bawang ('Murut').[8] Each of these five minority languages is threatened with extinction,[11] though it has been reported that Murut (which is spoken mostly in the enclave of Temburong) is relatively healthy, partly because it receives some support across the Malaysian border in Lawas, where it is known as Lun Bawang.[26]

Iban is also quite widely spoken in Temburong,[26] and there is a small community of Penan speakers living in a longhouse along the Belait River.[27]

Arabic[edit]

Arabic is the language of the Quran and is used by Islamic scholars in Brunei. The official religion of Brunei is Islam[28] and as such, all adherents of the faith possess some proficiency in reading and speaking Arabic.[citation needed]

Arabic is taught in schools, particularly religious schools. All Islamic children are required by law to attend an Ugama School ('Religious School') for three hours five days per week from the ages of 7 till 15, and the curriculum of these schools promotes the learning of Arabic as well as skill using Jawi, the Arabic-based script for representing Malay.[29]

In addition to the Ugama Schools, as of 2004, there were six Arabic schools and one religious teachers' college in Brunei.[30]

Indian languages[edit]

The Indian minority in Brunei originates mostly from southern India.[citation needed] They are joined by a relatively large expatriate community, estimated at about 7500, from India.[31] Tamil is mainly spoken by Indians in Brunei.

Nepali languages[edit]

There is also a contingent of Nepali soldiers of the Gurkha Reserve Unit in Sungai Akar camp and 1st and 2nd Battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles stationed in Seria, Brunei.[citation needed] The language spoken by most of these soldiers is Gurkhali. There are Gurkhali languages services provided by Radio Television Brunei[32] and the British Forces Broadcasting Service.[33]

Expatriate languages[edit]

Besides the expatriate Indians, Brunei also has a large expatriate community of Filipino,[34] Indonesian, Dutch and English-speaking[35] origins. Betawi, Javanese, Sundanese and Batak languages are also spoken by immigrants from Indonesia.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Martin, P. W., & Poedjosoedarmo, G. (1996). An overview of the language situation in Brunei Darussalam. In P. W. Martin, C. Ozog & G. Poedjosoedarmo (Eds.), Language use & language change in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 1-23). Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for International Studies.
  2. ^ a b Gallop, 2006. "Brunei Darussalam: Language Situation". In Keith Brown, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4. 
  3. ^ Language and Literature Bureau Brief History - retrieved 20-04-2007
  4. ^ Hussainmiya, B. A. (2001). The Brunei constitution of 1959: An inside history, 2nd ed. Bandar Seri Begawan: Brunei Press.
  5. ^ Jones, G. M. (2016). Changing patterns of education in Brunei: How past plans have shaped future trends. In Noor Azam H-O., J. McLellan & D. Deterding (Eds.), The use and status of Language in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 267-278). Singapore: Springer.
  6. ^ a b Clynes, A., & Deterding, D. (2011). Standard Malay (Brunei). Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 41, 259–268.On-line Version
  7. ^ Ferguson, C. A. (1959). Diglossia. Word, 15, 325-340.
  8. ^ a b McLellan, J., Noor Azam H-O., & Deterding, D. (2016). The language situation in Brunei Darussalam. In Noor Azam H-O., J. McLellan & D. Deterding (Eds.), The use and status of Language in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 9-16). Singapore: Springer.
  9. ^ Ethnologue report for language code: kxd
  10. ^ Clynes, A. (2014). Brunei Malay: An overview. In P. Sercombe, M. Boutin & A. Clynes (Eds.), Advances in research on linguistic and cultural practices in Borneo (pp. 153-200). Phillips, ME: Borneo Research Council.
  11. ^ a b Noor-Azam H-O., & Siti Ajeerah, N. (2016). The state of indigenous languages in Brunei. In Noor Azam H-O., J. McLellan & D. Deterding (Eds.), The use and status of Language in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 17-28). Singapore: Springer.
  12. ^ Deterding, D., & Ishamina Athirah (2017). Brunei Malay. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 47(1), 99–108. On-line Version
  13. ^ Poedjosoedarmo, G., & Hj Rosnah Hj Ramly (1996). Some notes on Brunei Malay syntax. In P. W. Martin, C. Ozog & G. Poedjosoedarmo (Eds), Language Use & Language Change in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 60-72). Athens, OH: Ohio University Center for International Studies.
  14. ^ Aznah, S. (2016). Comprehension of aspect markers by Brunei Malay L1 learners. In Noor Azam H-O., J. McLellan & D. Deterding (Eds.), The use and status of Language in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 75-94). Singapore: Springer.
  15. ^ a b c Deterding, D., & Salbrina, S. (2013). Brunei English: A New Variety in a Multilingual Society. Dordrecht: Springer.
  16. ^ Jones, G. (1996). The Brunei education policy in Brunei Darussalam. In P. W. Martin, A. C. K. Ozog & G. Poedjoesoedarmo (eds.), Language Use and Language Change in Brunei Darussalam (123-132). Athens, OH: Ohio University Center for International Studies.
  17. ^ Hjh Masmahirah Hj Mohd Tali (2016). Courtroom discourse: A case study of the linguistic strategies in Brunei courtooms. In Noor Azam H-O., J. McLellan & D. Deterding (Eds.), The use and status of Language in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 135-163). Singapore: Springer.
  18. ^ Powell, R. (2009). Language alternation in Malaysia courtrooms and comparisons with other common law jursidictions. In M. K. David, J. McLellan, S. Rafik-Galea & A. N. Abdullah (Eds.), Code switching in Malaysi (pp. 135-149). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
  19. ^ Noor Azam (2012). It's not always English: "Duelling Aunties" in Brunei Darussalam. In V. Rapatahana & P. Bunce (eds.), English Language as Hydra. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  20. ^ Mossop, J. (1996). Some phonological features of Brunei English. In P. W. Martin, A. C. K. Ozog & G. Poedjoesoedarmo (eds.), Language Use and Language Change in Brunei Darussalam (189-208). Athens, OH: Ohio University Center for International Studies.
  21. ^ Salbrina, S., & Deterding, D. (2010). Rhoticity in Brunei English. English World-Wide 31: 121-137
  22. ^ Nur Raihan Mohamad (2017). Rhoticity in Brunei English : A diachronic approach. Southeast Asia: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 17, 1-7. PDF Version
  23. ^ Brunei at a Glance BruDirect - retrieved 20-04-2007
  24. ^ a b Xu, S. (2016). A comparison of the vowels of Brunei Mandarin and Beijing Mandarin. In Noor Azam H-O., J. McLellan & D. Deterding (Eds.), The use and status of Language in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 57-74). Singapore: Springer.
  25. ^ Dunseath, K. (1996). Aspects of language maintenance and language shift among the Chinese community in Brunei. In P. W. Martin, C. Ozog & G. Poedjosoedarmo (Eds), Language Use & Language Change in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 280-301). Athens, OH: Ohio University Center for International Studies.
  26. ^ a b Coluzzi, P. (2011). Endangered languages in Borneo: A survey among the Iban and Murut (Lun Bawang) in Temburong Brunei. Oceanic Linguistics, 49(1), 119-143.
  27. ^ Martin, P. W., & Sercombe, P. (1996). The Penan of Brunei: Patterns of linguistic interaction. In P. W. Martin, C. Ozog & G. Poedjosoedarmo (Eds), Language Use & Language Change in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 302-311). Athens, OH: Ohio University Center for International Studies.
  28. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica - retrieved 22-04-2007
  29. ^ Noor Azam H-O. (2016). Bilingual education revisited: The role of Ugama Schools in the spread of bilingualism. In Noor Azam H-O., J. McLellan & D. Deterding (Eds.), The use and status of Language in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 253-265). Singapore: Springer.
  30. ^ Ministry of Education Statistics 2004 - retrieved 22-04-2007
  31. ^ Indian Community in Brunei - High Commission of India to Brunei - retrieved 20-04-2007
  32. ^ Pilihan Radio, Radio Television Brunei - retrieved 20-04-2007
  33. ^ BFBS Global Locations - retrieved 20-04-2007
  34. ^ Filipino Organisations in Brunei, Philippines Embassy - retrieved 20-04-2007
  35. ^ Centre for British Teachers in Brunei - retrieved 20-04-2007