The Malay language and ethnic identity in modern Malaysia

Collins, James T. and Zaharani Ahmad, (1999) The Malay language and ethnic identity in modern Malaysia. AKADEMIKA, 55 . pp. 133-148. ISSN 0126-5008

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Colonial discourse about the Malay language and the Malay ethnic group were often at odds with each other. Yet, this conflicting, orientalistic mythology about “Malay” still functions in contemporary discussions about language and ethnicity in Malaysia. This essay aims at constructing a new vantage point from which to view Malay. Instead of focusing on its uniqueness, Malay is seen within the context of its language neighbourhood, that is its relationship to Malaysia’s other Malayo-Polynesian languages, Malaysia’s non-Malayo-Polynesian languages and the diverse regional and social dialects of Malay in Malaysia. Instead of discussing Malay as a political, nation-state phenomenon, Malay is considered as a demographic, emblematic and negotiated phenomenon. We must find new ways of looking at and talking about Malay language and Malay ethnicity; we need to produce new knowledge, not merely repeat colonial myths.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:colonial discourse; Malay language; ethnic identity; Malayo-Polynesia
ID Code:4174
Deposited By: Mr Fazli Nafiah -
Deposited On:05 Apr 2012 02:09
Last Modified:23 May 2012 07:46

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