Orang Kanaq language

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Orang Kanaq
Pronunciation [ˈoraŋ ˈkanaʔ]
Native to Malaysia
Native speakers
80 (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 orn
Glottolog oran1258[2]

Orang Kanaq language is one of the Aboriginal Malay languages and it is grouped under the Austonesian Language family.[3] It is spoken by the Orang Kanaq, which is one of the 19 Orang Asli groups living in Peninsular Malaysia.

Orang Kanaq is a variant of Malay which is distinct from the dialects spoken by ethnic Malays living near them.[4] All members of the Orang Kanaq tribe are able to understand the language. However, the language's lexicon has been largely influenced by the Malay language.[1]


The Orang Kanaq were originally one of the Sea Gypsy peoples, from Pulau Sekanak in the Riau Islands of Indonesia. They started to migrate to Peninsula Malaysia in around 1784. Initially, they settled at Mawai Lama, Kota Tinggi but relocated to Selayang during the Malayan Emergency during the 1950s.[5] Currently, they are situated at Kampung Sungai Selangi, Mawai, Kota Tinggi. They are considered to be one of the country's earliest inhabitants even though they have been living on the Peninsula for only about 200 years.

Out of the 147,412 Orang Asli from 18 tribes in Malaysia, the Kanaqs make up the smallest number. The inhabitants of the Sungai Selangi village comprise 87 Orang Kanaq people, including 3 Malays, from 23 families. The village took shape in 1965, with only 40 Kanaq residents from 10 families.[6]

In the past, the Orang Kanaq were slave workers tapping trees in rubber plantations. Today, they lag behind in modern technology and education and are still working as labourers in rubber and shrub plantations. It is difficult for the close-knitted Orang Kanaq community to be separated as they avoid marrying outsiders. They believe that such unions will bring curses upon their tribe. Low birthrates have caused their numbers to dwindle over the years.[7]

Although, the population of the Orang Kanaq is dwindling, according to the Center of Orang Asli concern, the Orang Kanaq language is still very much vibrant.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b http://psasir.upm.edu.my/6750/1/UKM_2007_4(1-24).pdf
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Orang Kanaq". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ http://www.sorosoro.org/en/austronesian-languages
  4. ^ http://www.kitlv-journals.nl/index.php/btlv/article/viewFile/2923/3684
  5. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/topic,463af2212,497478492,49749ce85,0.html
  6. ^ http://www.gomalaysia.net/malaysianews/154-latest-news/1018-smallest-orang-asli-community-in-malaysia
  7. ^ http://www.joshuaproject.net/people-profile.php?peo3=14207&rog3=MY
  8. ^ http://www.coac.org.my/codenavia/portals/coacv2/code/main/main_art.php?parentID=11489123149742&artID=11492212828044

Further reading[edit]

  • bin Abdul, Omar, 1978. The Orang Kanaq of southeastern Johor: a preliminary ethnography (No. 7). Social Anthropology Section, School of Comparative Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia.
  • bin Abdul, Omar. 1985. "The Diversified Economy of the Orang Kanaq of Southeastern Johor, Malaysia." Contributions to Southeast Asian Ethnography 4: 31–74.