Publication details [#62604]

Coluzzi, Paolo, Wang Xiaomei and Patricia Nora Riget. 2017. Language vitality among the Orang Asli of Malaysia: the case of the Mah Meri on Telo’ Gunjeng (Carey Island, Selangor). International Journal of the Sociology of Language 2017 (244) : 137–162.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
De Gruyter


After a general introduction to the aboriginals of Peninsular Malaysia, the so-called Orang Asli, this paper introduces the ethnic group upon which the inquiry centered: the Mah Meri on Carey Island, Selangor. A survey is performed on language use and attitudes in four different Mah Meri villages on Carey Island. The results are then assayed in general terms and compared with those obtained via similar research performed amid the Bidayuh, a Dayak ethnic group in Borneo, displaying a rather high vitality degree for the Mah Meri language, even though lower than in the case of the Bidayuh. In contrast, when the responses provided by the younger speakers of the language are compared with those given by older speakers, a pattern of slow but permanent ongoing language shift clearly appears. The evidence seems to display a rather high degree of endangerment for the languages spoken by the Orang Asli in general, and for the Mah Meri in particular.