The Language Choice and Language Use: Narum Community in Sarawak, East Malaysia
The main attraction to Sarawak is its ethnic diversity. There are 27 distinct indigenous ethnic groups that speak 45 different languages and dialects. This paper will discuss about the Narum speech community. The Narum community is ethnically and linguistically known as the Narum people who live in Baram – an area in the Marudi district of Malaysia. They are an indigenous ethnic minority group in Sarawak. Narum language is spoken only among this community. They are considered as a minority with a small population who live mostly in Narum villages. As a minority ethnic group, they are influenced by the dominant majority language. This paper presents the patterns of language choice and language use among the Narum. The findings of this research are based on the substantial periods of fieldwork, using interviews, questionnaires, and participant observation. The study shows that there is a language shift in the Narum language towards the Sarawak Malay language - the lingua franca of the Sarawakians. This phenomenon may be explained by inter-marriage and socio-cultural and economical pressure.
Keywords: Sociolinguistics, Language Maintenance and Language Shift, Language Choice and Language Use Minority Language, Endangered Language
PhD Student, School of Education, University of Leicester