Language Ecology and Language Communities in the Malay World

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Introduction

The Malay World can be described, on geographic and linguistic grounds, as those parts of Southeast Asia where the Malay language is spoken, whether as a first or second language. This simple description encompasses many parts of Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and Thailand, Malay is spoken as a home language; while, in the Philippines, Cambodia, and Vietnam, Malay is spoken by some communities as a second or third language. The Malay World, then, straddles two regions usually identified separately in surveys of Southeast Asian ethnic groups: Mainland Southeast Asia (LeBar, Hickey, and Musgrave, 1964) and Insular Southeast Asia (LeBar 1972).

This tradition has been maintained even in more recent categorizations of the region. For example, in a recent popular language atlas (Comrie, Matthews and Polinsky, 1996), parts of Southeast Asia are discussed and illustrated in a chapter entitled South and Southeast Asia, while other parts of ...