Umaiyah Haji Umar

University of Malaya




The Integration of Mon-Khmer Languages (Indigenous Languages) into Malay and Thai: a Study of Language Maintenance and Language Loss


This paper investigates the integration of Mon-Khmer languages (indigenous languages) of the Austro-Asiatic language family into Malay and Thai, the dominant languages of Malaysia and Thailand. The evidence of language maintenance and language shift, as well as phonological aspect of lexical items under study, is reported.

A brief description of the historical background and characteristics of the languages are provided for better understanding of linguistic integration of these indigenous languages into the dominant languages of the two countries. The maintenance and change of the linguistic system are explored and explained with description of physical change in the lexical items, and through the aspects of socio-economic and socio-political influence. It is found that culture and surroundings of the communities which the speakers originate from, contributed immensely to the formation of their world view, impacting their languages.

This paper is part of an on-going genetic and typological study of the Mon Khmer languages conducted by the author and a group of other researchers. This paper endeavours to provide researchers in the area of language integration a better insight on how linguistics and anthropological approach can provide evidence of language loss and possible extinction of these languages.