Factors Related to Language Shift among the Tindal Population in Ratau, Kota Belud, Sabah

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Jimmy Kijai
Ritha Maidom
Daron Benjamin Loo


This research serves as a preliminary analysis of the language situation of Tindal, a Dusunic language spoken in Kampung Ratau, Kota Belud, Sabah, Malaysia. For the past several years, it has been observed that the use of the mother tongue of the community, Tindal, has steadily declined while the domain of Bahasa Malaysia (BM), the national language, has increasingly widened. A survey was administered to selected residents of Kampung Ratau to determine language use and their perception of the economic and social functionality of Tindal and Bahasa Malaysia. The results indicate that there is indeed a language shift between the older and younger residents of Kampung Ratau with the older ones predominantly using Tindal while the younger ones primarily use Bahasa Malaysia in their daily communication. Overall, the respondents think Tindal is an important cultural marker to preserve their identity, both in the present and for the future. They agree that the continuous use of Tindal will ensure the longevity of the language. Though the speakers of Tindal do acknowledge the vital role they play in preserving this minority language, they are also aware that a proficient grasp of Malay is necessary. Most respondents view BM as important since it is the accepted medium which allows them to fully function socially and economically. The dilemma for the residents of Kampung Ratau is that they are being torn between preserving Tindal, their mother tongue, and subordinating it to the more dominant Bahasa Malaysia, the national language. This, unfortunately, is a shared concern affecting many other minor ethnic language communities in Malaysia.


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