KUCHING: Diversity of languages in a plural society like Sarawak is inevitable because the various ethnic groups speak different languages.
“In Sarawak, there are various tribes and ethnic groups that use their own native language. At the same time, they also use the language of communication that is shared, understood, appropriate and does not cause communication problems,” said Linguistics Programme lecturer, Centre for Language and Linguistics, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Dr Mohammed Azlan Mis.
He said this in a Sarawakiana lecture series entitled, ‘Medium Perantara Pelbagai Suku Kaum Di Sarawak: Kajian Lingua Franca’ through the official YouTube channel of Pustaka Negeri Sarawak today (June 26).
He said a lingua franca was a basis for the unification of multi-ethnic and multi-lingual people in Sarawak.
“It is an informal language that does not comply with the norms and rules, and this is used by everyone to communicate with each other,”.
He added that, indirectly, the lingua franca, especially in Sarawak, had played its role as the basis of the unification of people of different ethnicities and native languages.
“Lingua franca is a chosen language and used to create effective communication in a region inhabited by various races or based on the demographics.
“Clearly, society only looks at traditional attire, handicrafts, festivals and dances, even different forms of houses to distinguish one ethnic group from another. But the question is, what about language?” Azlan asked.
He said that language or dialect was the most important thing that helped tighten the bonds between different societies and create harmony among their members.
“For example, Iban clothes are rarely worn by Malays but many Malays can speak Iban fluently,” he said.
In this regard, he also questioned, “Where does this language belong to? Is it just recorded in a journal or radio stations?”
“The language we speak unites us. If we travel to any district in Sarawak we use a common language to communicate.
“We are brought on the basis of language to be everywhere in the state.
“To be a good, polite, high-minded and respected person, it comes from the language of communication,” added Azlan.