The Malay Language in Mainland Southeast Asia

Asmah Haji Omar

Abstract

Today the Malay language is known to have communities of speakers outside the Malay Archipelago, such as in Australia inclusive of the Christmas Islands and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean (Asmah 2008), the Holy Land of Mecca and Medina (Asmah et al. 2015), England, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. The Malay language is also known to have its presence on the Asian mainland, i.e. Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. As Malays in these three countries belong to a minority, in fact among the smallest of the minorities, questions that arise are those that pertain to:(i) their history of settlement in the localities where they are now; (ii) the position of Malay in the context of the language policy of their country; and (iii) maintenance and shift of the ancestral and adopted languages. Today the Malay language is known to have communities of speakers outside the Malay Archipelago, such as in Australia inclusive of the Christmas Islands and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean (Asmah 2008), the Holy Land of Mecca and Medina (Asmah et al. 2015), England, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. The Malay language is also known to have its presence on the Asian mainland, i.e. Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. As Malays in these three countries belong to the minority, in fact among the smallest of the minorities, questions that arise are those that pertain to: (i) their history of settlement in the localities where they are now; (ii) the position of Malay in the context of the language policy of their country; and (iii) maintenance and shift of the ancestral and adopted languages.