The oil-rich sultanate of Brunei Darussalam is located on the northern coast of Borneo between the two Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah. Though the country is small in size and in population, the variety of language use there provides a veritable laboratory for linguists in the fields of Austronesian linguistics, bilingual studies, and sociolinguistic studies, particularly those dealing with language shift.
This useful reference is divided into three sections: one on varieties of the Malay language used in the country, one on other indigenous languages, and one on the role and form of the English used there. Contributors to the collection include Bruneian scholars as well as established experts in the fields of Austronesian linguistics, sociolinguistics studies, and the description of new varieties of English.
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In 1904 the British Protectorate of Brunei had reached the nadir of its fortunes. Reduced to two small strips of territory, bankrupt, and threatened with takeover by the Rajah of Sarawak (Sir Charles Brooke), Brunei received M. S. H. McArthur who was dispatched to make recommendations for Brunei's future administration.
This volume consists of seventeen articles by scholars including Robert Blust, Paul Hopper, A. L. Becker, Sarah Bell, J. C. Catford, Talmy Givón, J. W. M. Verharr and John U. Wolff. Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Chamorro, Malay, Old Malay, Javanese, Old Javanese, Indonesian, Niases, Loniu, and Niuean are some of the languages discussed in the study. The essays explore the issues of ergativity in Western Austronesian languages, historical morphology, phonology, phonetics and morphophonemics.
Contrary to modern theories of developing nations, Brunei Darussalam, which has a very high rate of literacy, is also one of the few countries where the traditional elite retains absolute political power.