ArticlePDF Available


Southeast Asia is home to many distinct groups of sea nomads, some of which are known collectively as Orang (Suku) Laut. Those located between Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula are all Malayic-speaking. Information about their speech is paltry and scattered; while starting points are provided in publications such as Skeat and Blagden (1906), Kähler (1946a, b, 1960), Sopher (1977: 178–180), Kadir et al. (1986), Stokhof (1987), and Collins (1988, 1995), a comprehensive account and description of Malayic Sea Tribe lects has not been provided to date. This study brings together disparate sources, including a bit of original research, to sketch a unified linguistic picture and point the way for further investigation. While much is still unknown, this paper demonstrates relationships within and between individual Sea Tribe varieties and neighbouring canonical Malay lects. It is proposed that Sea Tribe lects can be assigned to four groupings: Kedah, Riau Islands, Duano, and Sekak.
PB 265
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
© 2012 Faculty of Humanities, University of Indonesia
KARL ANDERBECK has been involved with Indonesian linguistics since 2000, doing Masters
research on Malay dialects in Jambi, and later, eld research in Lampung, South Sumatra
and Bengkulu provinces. His research interests are dialectology, historical linguistics, and
sociolinguistics. His main publications include “Initial reconstruction of Proto-Lampungic;
Phonology and basic vocabulary” (2007), in: Studies in Philippines Languages and Cultures 16:
41–165 and Malay dialects of the Batanghari River Basin (Jambi, Sumatra) (2008), SIL e-Books 6
( He is currently in a PhD programme at
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Karl Anderbeck may be contacted at:
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012): 265–312
The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Dialects and directions for research
Southeast Asia is home to many distinct groups of sea nomads, some of which
are known collectively as Orang (Suku) Laut. Those located between Sumatra and
the Malay Peninsula are all Malayic-speaking. Information about their speech is
paltry and scattered; while starting points are provided in publications such as
Skeat and Blagden (1906), Kähler (1946a, b, 1960), Sopher (1977: 178–180), Kadir
et al. (1986), Stokhof (1987), and Collins (1988, 1995), a comprehensive account
and description of Malayic Sea Tribe lects has not been provided to date. This
study brings together disparate sources, including a bit of original research, to
sketch a unied linguistic picture and point the way for further investigation.
While much is still unknown, this paper demonstrates relationships within and
between individual Sea Tribe varieties and neighbouring canonical Malay lects.
It is proposed that Sea Tribe lects can be assigned to four groupings: Kedah, Riau
Islands, Duano, and Sekak.
Malay, Malayic, Orang Laut, Suku Laut, Sea Tribes, sea nomads, dialectology,
historical linguistics, language vitality, endangerment, Skeat and Blagden, Holle.
1 Introduction
Sometime in the tenth century AD, a pair of ships follows the monsoons to
the southeast coast of Sumatra. Their desire: to trade for its famed aromatic
resins and gold. Threading their way through the numerous straits, the ships’
path is a dangerous one, lled with rocky shoals and lurking raiders. Only one
vessel reaches its destination. This ship is in the express service of the ruler
of Srivijaya, and is guided through the treacherous waters by skilful people
266 267
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
of the sea (Orang Laut in Malay). The other ship, seeking to trade without
paying duties to the ruler, is boarded by raiders, the same people of the sea.
Its sailors are executed and its booty conscated.
The famous Malay kingdoms of history, from Srivijaya and Melayu to
Malacca and Johore, could not have existed were it not for their loyal subjects,
people of the sea. These sea nomads gathered important products for trade,
enforced the use of authorised trading ports and punished transgressors.
This brief and preliminary study focuses attention on a narrow aspect of
these historically important groups, namely their speech. What language(s) to
these sea people speak (particularly those in the Riau Archipelago), and how
is their speech related (or not) to that of their traditional vassals, the Malays?
With the drastic changes in the world, do these groups even exist anymore?
1.1 Who and what are the Sea Nomads?
Given the archipelagic nature of Island Southeast Asia, it is not surprising
that numerous ethnic groups have made their living primarily from the sea.
Some have exploited the sea while living on land, while others have lived
a more nomadic existence, even to the point of living on their boats rather
than land. This nomadism allowed these latter groups to move from place
to place, harvesting different products in different seasons (Chou and Wee
2002: 334). These groups have been variously called Sea Tribes, Sea Nomads,
Sea Gypsies, Boat People, and, in Indonesian/Malay, Bajau1 (sea gypsies),
Orang Laut (sea people), Orang Suku Laut (people of the sea tribes), Ra(k)yat
Laut (sea subjects [to Malay rulers]), or Orang Perahu/Sampan (boat people).2
In this paper, examining as I do the interrelationships of various groups, I
use the term (Malayic-speaking) Sea Tribes to refer to them and their collective
speech varieties.
B.W. Andaya and L. Andaya (2001: 14) note that evidence of “communities
of able seafarers” in western Nusantara has been dated to as long as three
thousand years ago. As far back as the maritime state of Srivijaya in the
seventh century, Sea Tribes have played a key role in the history of the region,
enforcing the dominance of certain ports, functioning as the navy of Malay
rulers, and gathering important sea products for trade, usually in a patron-
client relationship with those rulers.3 They steadfastly maintained their own
identity, resisting the pressure to masuk Melayu (become Malay) with all its
cultural trappings. Their glory days, however, waned sharply beginning
in 1699 following the arrival of the Bugis into the West Nusantara trading
network and the assassination of Sultan Mahmud Syah II, the ruler of Johor.
Not only was their linkage with Malay dynasty (and patronage) weakened,
1 “Bajau“ usually is used as an ethnonym referring to non-Malayic-speaking seafaring
groups further east (see below) but has also been used as a general term, particularly in colonial-
era literature.
2 We do well to keep in mind T. Barnard’s (2007: 34) caution that “[a]lthough the title
Orang Laut suggests a certain amount of homogeneity, it is a relatively articial designation”.
3 In Barnard’s (2007: 34) memorable phrase, “[t]he Straits were a highway in which
the Orang Laut were the toll collectors”.
266 267
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
but the Riau Sea Tribes were also soon eclipsed technologically by Illanun
raiders in the late eighteenth century (Barnard 2007: 45). The second half
of the nineteenth century, with the rise of Industrial-Age colonialism, saw
many groups abandoning nomadism (Sopher 1977: 114), a process which
still continues. Maintaining a distinct ethnic identity from Malays, formerly
economically protable (L. Andaya 2008: 184), has become an economic
and cultural liability (Lenhart 1997: 586). Today, “enormous changes [are]
occurring at a very rapid rate” (Lenhart 2001: 67) in traditional Sea Tribe areas.
Commercial shing, resettlement programs, development and seizure of
traditional shing grounds, among other factors, have seriously marginalized
the Sea Tribes. Traditional lifestyles are being abandoned, populations are
shrinking or assimilating to the majority culture, and a number of historical
groups have completely disappeared.
1.2 Taxonomy of Sea Tribe lects4
Sopher (1977: 50) provides a macro division of the languages spoken by the
Sea Tribes of Nusantara:
1. Mawken
2. Malayic
3. Bajau
Map 1 shows the location of the Mawken and Malayic groups. The Mawken
(Moken/Moklen) of central and northern Thailand, and the Bajau of the
southern Philippines, eastern Borneo, Sulawesi and further east, both speak
Malayo-Polynesian but non-Malayic languages. As the focus of this paper is
on Malayic-speaking groups, I will not speak further of Mawken or Bajau.
Within the Malayic grouping, my analysis (this paper) shows a four-fold
division of Sea Tribe lects (see Map 2):
A. Kedah
B. Riau Islands
C. Duano
D. Sekak
Group A refers to the small subset of Malayic Sea Tribe lects found from
southern Thailand to Kedah in Malaysia, individually embedded within
what has been called the Kedah dialect (Collins 1988). The best-known of
these groups is Urak Lawoi’, which will be discussed in more detail below.
Riau Islands, the focus of this paper, refers to those groups clustered in the
4 In this paper I use the neutral term lect to denote a given speech variety, agnostic
as to where it may fall on the language-dialect continuum. It may be helpful to note that the
Malay/Indonesian term bahasa (< Sanskrit), commonly translated as ‘language’, is actually
better translated as the more noncommittal ‘lect’, denoting everything from idiolect (bahasa
aku ‘my way of speaking’) to a plurality of languages (bahasa daerah ‘local language(s)’). I prefer
lect over the semantically equivalent but distractingly polysemous term variety (Chambers and
Trudgill 1998: 5) or the somewhat redundant isolect (Hudson 1967: 12).
268 269
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Riau-Lingga Archipelago between Sumatra, Singapore, and (to a lesser extent)
the west coast of Kalimantan. I argue here that this geographical collection
of lects has a collective set of features which both distinguishes it and sets
it within the larger dialect network surrounding it. Duano is the name of a
single ethnolinguistic group found off the east coast of the Sumatran mainland
(Riau and Jambi provinces) and the west coast of Johor. Although technically
located in the Riau-Lingga Archipelago, linguistically Duano is very different
than anything else found there and is thus classied separately. Sekak is the
lone described Sea Tribe lect in the islands of Bangka and Belitung (although
reports exist of other groups) and is quite distinct from the sedentary Malay
lects of Bangka and Belitung. Although I will touch on Kedah, Duano and
Sekak in this paper, the focus will most strongly be on the Riau Islands lects.
Map 1. Distribution of Sea Tribes in western Nusantara (Sopher 1977: Plate III)
268 269
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Within the Sea Tribes of the Riau Islands, Lenhart (2001: 84) makes another
four-fold social division:
a. Mantang
b. Mapor (Mapur)5
c. Barok
d. Galang (sedentarized and mostly assimilated)
Due to a lack of data, it is currently unclear whether Lenhart’s division
is also reected dialectally. Moreover, this division should be not accepted
uncritically, for two reasons. First, many more Riau Sea Tribes had been
reported in the past (for example Seletar, Tambus, Moro, et cetera) but many
of these have since assimilated into Malay society. Second, every ethnic listing
contains slightly different membership, and conceptions of ethnic afliation
are quite uid; compare Chou (2003: 34, 45). Chou (see Map 3) lists forty-ve
different Riau Sea People territorial groupings which evidently still exist,
5 While samples of Mantang, Galang, and Barok are represented in the dataset for this
study, it is unclear if any of the lists in the dataset actually correspond to Mapor. The identity
of the Sea Tribe known as Mapor is somewhat of a mystery. O. Smedal’s (republished) thesis
(1989), per M. Kartomi, reports that the Mapur Tribe are named after the Mapur mountain
in Northeast Bangka and are part of the Lom Tribe, indeed that Lom customary law (adat) is
called adat Mapur. In Smedal (1987: 1–2), he states atly, “Orang Lom and Orang Mapur are
two terms for the same group – and language – in the district Belinyu” and demonstrates that
the term Mapur has been used by colonial writers since the mid-nineteenth century. However,
Kartomi (personal communication 2010) writes, “My informants in Belinyu [Bangka]/Suku Laut
[Sekak] said some of their group contained people from an island to the north called Mapur,
and that they were forced off the island by the government and sailed to Bangka where they
settled among the Sekak. Local Bangka ofcials conrmed this”. Smedal and Kartomi, after
comparing notes, concluded there must be two Mapur groups.
Map 2. Malayic Sea Tribe lect groupings.
270 271
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
and reports (2003: 18) that, with the collapse of the feudal system into which
the Sea Peoples were socially ranked, they less often refer to themselves by a
particular suku and more by what territory they belong to. She additionally
reports (2003: 10) that “[e]ach Orang Laut clan possesses its own dialect”,
although this information may be based more on hearsay than evidence.
Map 3. Sea Tribes in the Riau Archipelago (Chou 2010: 26).
270 271
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
1.3 Dialectology in the Malay world
The vernacular Malayic lects of Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula and (at least)
western Kalimantan form what could be considered a geographical dialect
continuum. A dialect continuum is where adjacent areas can understand
each other but have small linguistic differences. As the geographic distances
increase, the linguistic differences increase and hence, intelligibility decreases,
to the point where the extreme end points may be considered separate
languages. These continua are rife in our world, for example the massive
Romance dialect continuum in Europe. In fact, they may be the rule rather
than the exception (Chambers and Trudgill 1998: 6). Just as the Romance
dialect continuum ultimately derives from (Vulgar) Latin, the Malayic dialect
continuum derives from Proto-Malayic (PM; reconstructed in K.A. Adelaar
Dialect continua mean that languages are not like marbles, but neither
are they a perfectly graded scale. M. Paul Lewis, editor of the Ethnologue,
puts it like this, “Language is a lot more like oatmeal, where there are some
clearly dened units [lumps] but it’s very fuzzy around the edges” (Erard
2005). The “lumps” are frequently areas which have achieved sociopolitical,
demographic or economic dominance. That the Malay World forms a dialect
continuum is elucidated well in Collins (1989), which describes complex,
layered relationships and often gradual gradation from one area to the
next. Collins cautions us not to view the sea (or current political borders) as
boundaries. In Nusantara, “the sea functions as a major communication route
guaranteeing a high density of communication” (1989: 255).
The next section describes some “lumps” pertinent to this study.
1.4 Profiles of Urak Lawoi’, Duano, Jakun, and Sekak
Since the focus of the paper is the Riau Sea Tribe lects, I will try to dispose of
the non-Riau lects all at once. Accordingly, here I give brief portraits of a few
of the more distinctive Sea Tribes lects plus one inland “tribal Malay” lect.
1.4.1 Urak Lawoi’
Urak Lawoi’ [urk],6 which translates as ‘sea people’ and is cognate with Malay
orang laut, is spoken by approximately three thousand people “located in
villages on the islands off the west coast of Thailand from Phuket Island to the
Adang Island group” (Hogan 1988: 1). In contrast with the nomadic Moken
(Mawken), as of the 1960’s the Urak Lawoi’ were strand-dwellers, making
long journeys in their boats but returning to xed settlements (Hogan 1972:
215). Robert (2010) is a dissertation documenting how traditional Urak Lawoi’
lifeways and language are rapidly losing ground to outside inuences, both
Western and Thai.
Previous linguistic research on the group, besides the two works by Hogan
6 When introducing a lect which has been separately identied in the Ethnologue (Lewis
2009), for clarity’s sake I will include the language’s three-letter ISO 639-3 identier.
272 273
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
(1972, 1988), includes A. Saengmani’s (1979) MA thesis about Urak Lawoi’
phonology, while H. Steinhauer (2008) used Hogan’s data for further analysis
of Urak Lawoi’ sound changes, focusing on the Phuket Old People’s dialect.
Noting that the most salient sound changes occur in the nal syllables,
Steinhauer (2008: 125) details a number of sound changes from PM, including:
1. Insertion of a glide in vowel clusters beginning with a *high vowel. The
example *laut ‘sea’ > lawoiʔ illustrates innovations 1-4.
2. Lowering of *high vowels to their mid and lower-mid pendants in closed
nal syllables.
3. Diphthongization of non-front vowels before *-s and *-t.
4. Glottalization of nal *stops and *fricatives.
5. Change of nal nasals into their corresponding voiceless stop, unless the
onset of the nal syllable was also a nasal (for example urak ‘person’ <
6. Simplication of homorganic nasal-stop sequences. Sequences with voiced
stops reduce to the nasal component (for example taŋa ‘ladder’ < *taŋga),
while those with voiceless stops reduce to the stop component (for example
**tupol ‘blunt’ < *tumpul).
7. Change of nal *-l into –n (for example tupon ‘blunt’ < **tupol).
8. Lateralization of *-r (for example lapal ‘hungry’ < *lapar)
9. In terms of its lexicon, Urak Lawoi’ is fairly mainstream, containing some
seemingly unique words but probably no more than the typical Malay
1.4.2 Duano
Duano [dup] is spoken by approximately 17,500 people, the majority in the
coastal region of Riau and Jambi Provinces, with a minority on the facing
coast of Johor, Malaysia. They also go by the names Orang Kuala (people of
the estuaries) and Desin Dola’, a phrase meaning ‘people of the sea’ in what
presumably is the non-Malayic but still Austronesian substratum of their
language. As with the Urak Lawoi’, they are not (currently) nomadic.
Previous linguistic documentation of Duano includes:
J.G. Schot (1884) provided about 150 Duano lexical items in a geographical
survey of the Kateman river basin in Riau.
W. Skeat and H.N. Blagden (1906; henceforth SnB) published a short list
collected near Malacca (Tanjung Seginting). It was listed as “unidentied”,
but comparing the items to other Duano data makes its provenance clear.
H. Kähler (1946a, b) furnished a lexicon of nearly 450 Duano items spoken
on Rangsang Island.
E. Seidlitz (2007) wrote a brief phonology of Duano based on sites in
both Malaysia and Indonesia. His paper also contains a more complete
history and bibliography for this group. He has kindly shared with me
two Malaysian and two Indonesian 500-item wordlists.
M.S. Yusof’s (2006) dissertation focuses on language obsolescence among
the Orang Seletar (Johor and Singapore) and (Malaysian) Duano. Since I
272 273
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
have not seen it, I am unaware whether it contains linguistic data, but it
is one of the few sociolinguistically oriented works on Sea Tribes.
Although Duano includes signicant internal dialect variation, it is
nevertheless clear what qualies as Duano and what does not. Duano is
likely the most aberrant Malayic lect in terms of its lexicon, with only 59% of
its basic vocabulary derived from PM, and 56% similarity to both Standard
Indonesian and Standard Malay (McDowell and Anderbeck 2008). Its sound
changes make it one of the more phonologically divergent Malayic lects as
well. Innovations include: strengthening of PM *h to ʔ (or retention of PMP *q
as ʔ), PM *k > ɣ (or ɣ as intervocalic allophone of *k; compare Seidlitz (2007)),
loss of nal *r, nal open *a > u, and raising of *a in closed syllables after a
voiced stop, particularly in nal syllables (described in more detail in Section
3.2). Describing Duano sound changes is difcult, however, for two reasons.
The rst is due to the internal dialect variation. For example, two dialects
regularly occlude nal *nasals (for example kəɣeəʔ ‘dry’ < *kəriŋ) while the
others do not or do so only occasionally. The second difculty is the likely
existence of a non-Malayic substratum, which requires ferreting out which
sound changes belong to which layer.
I will say a little more here about possible substratum, although a whole
paper could easily be written on the issue. C. Pelras (2002: 6) listed a number of
non-Malay words, being mostly unsuccessful in his attempt to determine their
origin. I have a very broad database of Malayic lects yet most are mysteries to
me as well. A few likely Mon-Khmer terms can be found. Duano coʔ ‘fall’ seems
to correspond with the Proto-Aslian-derived Jahai co (SnB)/cərəh (T. Phillips
In progress), cooy ‘wood’ is also likely Aslian (Mon-Khmer languages of
Peninsular Malaysia). However, T. Phillips (personal communication) assures
me that, on the whole, Aslian is not the primary source of the unknown words.
In terms of sound changes, I will make a brief comment on Duano reexes
of a few Proto-Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) phonemes. First, PMP *q, which
came to Proto-Malayic as *h, is reected in Duano in a way that is basically
unknown in Malayic (see Table 1).
PMP (Proto-Malayo-Polynesian) Duano Proto-Malayic
*qulu ‘head’ kulu *hulu(ʔ)
*qijuhuŋ ‘nose’ (Adelaar 1992) kəloŋo *hiduŋ
*taqu ‘know’ taɣu *tahu(ʔ)
*qatay ‘liver’ ɣati *hati
*bunuq ‘kill’ bunaʔ*bunuh
*buaq ‘fruit’ buaʔ*buah
Table 1. Reexes of PMP *q in Duano.
274 275
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
One other deviation from Malayic, which merged PMP *-uy with *-i, is the
Duano lexeme məloŋoy ‘swim’ < PMP *laŋuy. To add to the mystery, Kähler
(1946a, b; as discussed in G. Benjamin 2009: 317) documents the use of
Austronesian verb inxes *(u)m ‘actor focus’ and *in ‘perfective aspect’
in Duano, which are otherwise nearly non-existent as productive forms in
Malayic. Is this a retention from very early Malayic, or from a substratum
Clearly, something is different in Duano from any other Malayic lect
yet described. Since Duano otherwise shares many Malayic (even Malay)
innovations, my preliminary and scantily supported conclusion is that Duano
has an Austronesian non-Malayic substratum.7
1.4.3 Jakun
The Jakuns are a Malay-speaking inland Orang Asli (original people) group in
southern peninsular Malaysia (Pahang and Johor) with an ethnic population of
nearly 28,000 (Seidlitz 2005). Although they are not a Sea Tribe, their inclusion
here is primarily due to the fact that Jakun shows some linguistic resemblance
to various Sea Tribes discussed in the paper, and has been linked by earlier
writers to Sea Tribe lects.
As Seidlitz’s (2005) MA thesis on Jakun phonology discusses previous
research on the Jakun language and society, I will only mention the data
sources for this paper, which are fourteen 200-item wordlists from Seidlitz,
and a handful of century-old lists (mostly under 50 items) from Orang Asli
groups of southern Malaya compiled by Blagden (1906).
These British colonial writers (Skeat and Ridley 1900; Skeat and Blagden
1906) judged the various tribal groups they encountered, including Sea Tribes,
as being Aslian (“Sakai”) in origin. At least for the Jakun, there would seem to
be some basis for this claim. The Jakun vocabularies8 provided by SnB were
a mix of Malayic and Aslian (Mon-Khmer) words. My examination of the
modern-day Jakun language reveals continuity with that of a century ago,
but the process of Malayization of their language has continued to the point
where Aslian words form only a small minority.9 This trajectory gives credence
to SnB’s assertion that the Jakun people originally spoke an Aslian language
(perhaps akin to the extinct Kenaboi) but fell into the Malay sphere, versus the
7 The discussion in W. Mahdi (2009) regarding the possible trade role of pre-Moken
(Mawken) speakers in the Malacca Straits, as well as the shared and relatively rare change
PMP *q > k (G. Thurgood 1999: 58–59) would indicate Moken as a possible substrate language
of Duano. However, M. Larrish, an expert in Moken, was not able to identify any lexical
innovations shared between Moken and Duano (personal communication), nor have I identied
any unusual aba sequences in Duano as are seen in Moken (Mahdi 2009: 80).
8 Until fairly recently the term Jakun was used broadly to denote any Austronesian-
speaking Orang Asli of Malaysia. Nevertheless, the lists labeled Jakun in SnB do show broad
similarity to each other.
9 One example: ayih/ajih ‘you (singular)’, is found in both nineteenth century and
modern Jakun, with a probable cognate in extinct Kenaboi yei identical, and reexes in many
Aslian languages as something like ajih ‘that; there’.
274 275
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
opposite possibility (as promoted by P. Schebesta (1926)) that the Jakun were
originally of Malayan stock but were (linguistically) Aslianized by virtue of
their location.10 This Malayization accords with the general pattern of masuk
Melayu (become Melayu) known from time immemorial (see Benjamin 2002).
1.4.4 Sekak
In the Malay zone of Bangka and Belitung is a Sea Tribe variously identied
as Loncong (Lontjong in earlier Dutch spelling), Sekah, Sekak, and Sawang [lce].
A rough estimate of their current population is under 600, down from 1700 or
more when the Dutch counted them in the late nineteenth century. According
to an article in Kompas magazine (Mama 2010), they are still nomadic. It is
unknown how much of the Sekak language is still spoken.
A few works have been published containing linguistic data on Sekak:
In 1881 J.G.F. Riedel published two folk stories in the Sekak language
(Riedel 1881).
Exactly 100 years after Riedel’s publication of Sekak folk stories, the
Indonesian government’s Pusat Bahasa published Struktur bahasa Sekak
(Napsin et al. 1981) which included some grammatical aspects and an
appendixed wordlist.
In addition, K. Anderbeck and U. Tadmor in a work-in-progress explore
some historical linguistic aspects of Sekak based on the data cited above.
The existence of samples separated by a century provides the opportunity
to examine the linguistic changes that have occurred over that period. The
vocabulary extracted from the 1881 folk stories shows some interesting things.
First, a large number of words are of Javanese origin, including but not limited
to: ucul ‘become loose’, sədulur ‘sibling’, lacut ‘break off’, and probably milu,
melu ‘go, depart’ < JV. milu, melu ‘follow’. A signicant percentage of the
lexicon (probably below 25%) cannot be attributed to Malay or Javanese, such
as bəŋkur ‘breast’, ayau ‘person’, mənam ‘female’, umar ‘blood’, marus ‘white’,
sawaŋ ‘sea’, ɲaŋui ‘answer’, tuyu ‘rice’, di rapak ‘where’ and the relativiser mo(h).
Additionally, many of these items break Malay phonotactics as outlined in
Adelaar (1992). Of the unknown items, only ve have identiable links to
PMP. For example, alum ‘inside’ is certainly Austronesian but probably non-
Malayic given the reex of PMP *e.
In terms of structure, the language seems Malay in some sense and non-
Malay in another. The word order, particularly that of nouns and deictics,
seems reverse from the typical Malay order, for example iti jukut ‘that sh’
versus SM (Standard Malay) ikan itu. Possession similarly is odd: aku əmpun
gaɲur ‘my weapon’. This lect also did not seem to employ the ML nominalizing
sufx an, for example pərbuat versus SM perbuatan, pərmula versus SM
permulaan, ucap ‘utterance’ versus SM ucapan.11
10 Of course both possibilities could be true to some extent; likely some of ancient Malay
stock never took up the Melayu identity.
11 These features are not unknown in the Malay World, particularly among contact
276 277
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
The 1981 Sekak sample, while clearly a descendant of the earlier Sekak,
falls much more in line with other neighbouring Malayic lects (spoken by both
Bangka/Belitung Malays and Lom “tribals“) than its older self. Of the Sekak
words which rarely occur in Malayic lects or have different semantics, only
a quarter were retained. Even more striking, of the unknown lexemes from
the nineteenth century, basically all had disappeared by 1981.
In terms of phonological innovations, both 1881 and 1981 Sekak innovations
are documented rather comprehensively in Table 3.
1.5 Origins
The origins of the West Nusantara Sea Tribes and their Malayic speech are
obscure; linguistic evidence of a non-Malayic substratum is slim to none.
Skeat and H.N. Ridley, in their brief report on river nomads of Singapore, the
Orang Kallang, cite the words koyok ‘dog’, kiyan ‘come, come here’, kiyun ‘go
away’ and kiyoh ‘far off’ as the only non-Malay terms their informants could
produce for them. They correctly noted that cognates of the latter three terms
are very common in the tribal lects (both Malayic and Aslian) of Johor, Pahang,
Negeri Sembilan and Selangor including Jakun. It is unlikely, however, that
these terms should be classied as Aslian loans into (mostly) tribal Malayic
lects: more likely as Malayic into southern Aslian languages which are already
rife with Malayic loans.12 Beyond a few exotic terms, however, Riau Sea Tribe
lects are extremely lexically mainstream (see Section 3.3).
Sound changes are unlikely to provide much evidence for substratum
in a case like this. While it is conceivable that unique features to, say,
Aslian languages could be evident in the target language, like vowel length
distinctions, or an expanded phoneme inventory matching Aslian phonemes,
most sound changes could just as easily be explained by other causes. Sound
changes, however, can more easily shed light on the relationship between the
Malay spoken by the Sea Tribes and other Malayic lects. Such questions will
be explored in detail below.
Benjamin (2002: 18) criticises the kuih lapis (layer cake) view of ethnology
that has characterized much scholarship of the past century, and which
assumes that “tribals“ are unchanged products of earlier migrations than
“civilized“ groups. He argues that “tribal“, while a valid ethnological category,
is better understood as a synchronic strategy of maintaining separateness
from centres of power than as a retention of ancient lifeways. For this and
other reasons, he states that the “search for the remoter ‘origins’ of any of the
constituent populations will therefore be misconceived and with it the search
for a supposedly single ‘origin’ for the Malays themselves” (Benjamin 2002: 23).
Malay varieties. Sekah‘s relationship with other Malay varieties is explored more in Anderbeck
and Tadmor (In progress).
12 The troika kian, kiun, and kiuh are all likely bi-morphemic, with Malay ke ‘to, toward’ as
the rst element. Kian ‘this, thus, this way’ (as in sekian) is found in standard Malay dictionaries,
and Blagden notes Belitung Malay siun ‘there’, likely using the –un morpheme in a typically
Malay manner. Koyok ‘dog’ is actually a fairly common term in Kalimantan and not unknown
elsewhere, so should not be considered Aslian.
276 277
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
1.6 Some notes on terminology
The previous section leads well into a needed side-trip regarding terminology.
First, identifying ethnic groups in the Malay World is a task most confusing.
Ethnonyms come in a bewildering thicket; terms like orang asli (original or
aboriginal people), orang darat (people of the inland), orang hutan (people of
the forest), and orang laut have been applied at will to various groups, with
some groups (for example Orang Seletar) being labeled both orang laut and
orang hutan! In addition there are place names (which can overlap with other
place names in hierarchical fashion), names given to reect social or political
organisation (like orang batin, referring to a special type of tribal leader, and
orang pesukuan ‘people of the tribal divisions’), religion or lack thereof (orang
kappir ‘indel’, orang (be)lom ‘people yet without religion’). Care is thus needed.
In any attempt at ethnic labelling or categorisation, we do well to heed the
caution of those who study ethnicity and who tell us that ethnic conceptions
are variable and layered.
Second, I must dene some terms used in this paper. By “Malayic“ I
follow Adelaar’s denition as presented in (1992) as any lect which descends
from Proto-Malayic, whether or not its speakers make any claim to being
culturally Malay.
The denition of “Malay“, both as a linguistic as well as an ethnic term,
is much more complicated, in fact entire books have been written on the
subject (for a linguistic perspective, see for example Collins (1998b); regarding
Malay ethnic identity, see for example Benjamin and Chou (2002), Barnard
(2004) and L. Andaya (2008)). Benjamin (2002: 50) argues that the modern
conception of Malay or Melayu – since the late nineteenth century – is not a
state but an achievement: “one must act Melayu”. This acting Melayu involves
three components: “language, Islam and an acceptance of social hierarchy”.
Benjamin and others demonstrate the uidity of this category, where various
tribals in some contexts consider themselves or are even considered by others
as Malay. Yet it is the modern sense of Melayu which I employ in this study.
Thus the cultural-linguistic term canonical Malay used in this paper, as I
understand introduced by Collins (1997), refers to the Malayic lects spoken
by people who dene themselves by the narrower Melayu label. I also follow
Benjamin’s (2002: 7) restricted denition of Malay World, “the areas currently
or formerly falling under kerajaan Melayu, the rule of a Malay king”.
I mention above my use of the term tribe and tribal. Benjamin (2002: 8)
argues that tribal status is a response to the “classical civilizing process”
and thus does not involve autonomy but rather heteronomy, and is a uid
conception that can involve movement both out of as well as into this category.
Hence, he argues that many Sea People today may be more tribal than when
they were in the direct service of Malay rulers. However, it seems that the
strongest pressure over the past half century has been in the direction of de-
tribalization and assimilation.
278 279
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
1.7 Research questions
To summarize, this study employs existing research to examine the
relationships between Sea Tribe speech varieties and with other Malay dialects.
Such historical linguistic/dialectological analysis can round out the emerging
picture of Malay(ic) dialectal variation throughout Nusantara, shed light into
historical relationships, and may also prove theoretically interesting. We also
face some urgency here: many of these speech varieties are endangered and
subject to strong pressures, therefore unique matters are being lost, both to
researchers and to the Sea People themselves.
Do Sea Tribe dialects cohere or adhere? What relationships seem to be
closest? In other words, how do these speech varieties t within the larger
Malayic dialect continuum? Can we nd any lumps, areas which cluster
Do we see signicant unknown (non-Malayic) linguistic characteristics in
these lects?
Do all seem to be Malay (versus Malayic)?
What do we know, what do we not know? What eld research is needed/
2 Data sources and methodology
2.1 Previous research
The state of the art of research into Nusantara Sea Nomads remains Sopher
(1977, originally defended in 1954). That dissertation, however, was mostly
composed of secondary research rather than eldwork. Chou (2003: 7–8)
[R]ecent literature based on eld research on the Orang Laut remains dismal [...]
most of the published literature on the Orang Laut dates from the mid-nineteenth
century. It comprises a heterogeneous collection of travel accounts, geographical
monographs, local histories and administrative reports.
This dismal status has been remedied a great deal by the eldwork of Chou
(2003, 2010), Lenhart (1997, 2001, 2002) and some others, but little work has
been linguistically- or sociolinguistically-focused.
The great majority of existing linguistic descriptions, such as they are, focus
on one dialect or another. This paper attempts to stitch together these resources
into a more coherent picture. Beyond the studies mentioned in Section 1.4,
here is a summary of resources which contain linguistic information on Sea
Tribes Malayic. I will highlight the aggregators rst:
Skeat and (primarily) Blagden (1906) collected published and unpublished
tidbits of information on the speech of six Sea Tribes (among others).13 In
13 My thanks go to T. Phillips for digitizing and sharing these lists with me.
278 279
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
the analysis below the date of the list is given as 1906 unless more specic
information on the time of eldwork was provided in SnB. The ethnonym
and number of wordlist items of the six lists are:
Barok (74)
Galang (32)
Temiang (6)
Kallang (Singapore; SnB ‘Orang Laut’ but actually river dwellers)
Trang/Kappir (southern Thailand) (12)
Tanjung Segenting (Duano, Malaysia) (15)
Similarly, W.A.L. Stokhof (1987) published a number of colonial-era
wordlists labeled “Holle lists“, including of three non-canonical Malay-
speaking groups of Riau. All three were elicited in 1905:
Orang Hutan/Darat of Batam (list #93, 66 items),14 referred to in
this study as Orang Darat Batam;
Tambus, Sanglar Island (between Moro island and the mainland),
Riau, 1905 (list #94, 72 items);
Mantang (list #92, 215 items).
Kähler (1960, based on eldwork in the 1930’s) contains ethnographic
and linguistic description of Orang Darat of Batam Island with contrastive
examples from other tribal groups of Riau: Orang Akit (‘Raft People’;
Rupat Island off the Sumatran coast), Orang Hutan (Tebing Tinggi Island,
off the Sumatran coast further south), and Orang Laut whose location is
given only as the Riau Archipelago.15 The book includes a fairly extensive
comparative vocabulary of the four groups, which was re-purposed for
this study.
M.D. Kadir et al. (1986) studied three dialek Orang Laut of Riau, containing
230-item wordlists (Barok, Mantang, Galang). These lists are referred to
by their location, appended with “Kadir“.
Here are more specic studies, from north to south:
S. Smith et al. (1814: 182) documented 21 words of the “Language of
the Orang laut” of “certain of the islands lying off the western coast of
Queda [Kedah], particularly Pulao Lontar”. In this paper I refer to this
list as “Kedah OLaut“. Although the Urak Lawoi’ identies Lanta Island
(presumably the same island) as the place from which they spread (Hogan
1988: 1), it is not immediately clear how close the two varieties are; this
14 All “Holle” wordlists published by Stokhof were numbered. The total number of
lexical items contained in each list varied, so the Mantang list, given number 92 by Stokhof,
contained 215 words, while the Orang Hutan/Darat list, given number 93, contained merely
66 words.
15 However, see also the caveat of Adelaar (2008: 15), “Kähler’s sketchy data are difcult
to read because he basically tries to describe four dialects at once, because of the nature of his
analysis which is more outdated than is suggested by his terminology and, last but not least,
because of the inferior layout of his book which was typical for Dietrich Reimer publications
at the time”.
280 281
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
question is addressed in Section 4.2.
B. Usman’s et al. (1983) Struktur Bahasa Orang Laut provides a basic
documentation of the speech of “Orang Laut” off the North Sumatran
(Sumut) coast. These data are discussed further in Collins (1988). I refer
to this documented lect as Sumut OLaut.
S. Umar et al.’s (1991) Struktur Bahasa Akit includes a 214-item wordlist,
texts, and sentences of the abovementioned Akit (Raft) Tribe. These are
nomadic foragers but not currently sea nomads. The authors report 3,436
Akit people in two villages on Rupat Island,16 as well as vigorous usage
of the vernacular.
Collins (1995), in his bibliography of Malay dialects on Sumatra, provides
basic information regarding previous studies of Sea Tribe lects there. One
study mentioned therein (Collins 1995: 190) is S. Syamsiar et al.’s (1986)
79-pages Struktur Bahasa Sokop, documenting the speech of 700 Orang Laut
in three villages on the island of Rangsang. Although Collins17 equates
their dialect with that of the Duano researched by Kähler (1946a, b), the
very limited data I have seen do not support this conclusion.18
Orang Seletar (Singapore) and Duano wordlists were published in V.
Arnaud et al. (1997). The wordlist database has 900 lexical slots but many
of them are probably empty for any given list. My guess is the data are
from C. Pelras (see Pelras 2002). I do not yet have access to this resource.
I conducted extremely brief eldwork of the partly-sedentarized Sea
Tribe on Bintan Island in 2010, gathering a 200-item wordlist and some
sociolinguistic information. The wordlist can be found in the appendix,
and the group is referred to here as Bintan Orang Laut.
Map 4 shows the Sea Tribe data points in the Riau Archipelago.
16 Per G. Benjamin (personal communication), Orang Akit also live on Karimun Island
in the Riau Archipelago.
17 Collins (1995: 189) also cites Suwardi’s (1993) article as “an analysis of aspects of the
phonology and morphology of the dialects of Riau Malay, Talang Mamak and Orang Laut of
the Riau-Lingga Archipelago, as well as the dialects spoken by Orang Bonai and Sakai in the
Rokan River basin” (translation mine). However, Suwardi’s Orang Laut data are from Kadir
et al. (1986), and his analysis contributes little if anything to the present study.
18 Duano (incuding Kähler’s Rangsang dialect) contains highly unique body part terms
not reected in this 1986 book, for example Sokop kaki ‘leg’ versus Rangsang kəɣɵmpaŋ, perut
‘belly’ versus Rangsang bətɵŋ, kepale ‘head’ versus kulu, idong ‘nose’ versus kəlɔŋɔ, and gigi ‘tooth’
versus ləpo. Judging by this tiny sample, ‘bahasa Sokop’ looks like nearly any other Riau Malay
280 281
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
2.2 Additional data sources
Additional sources of comparative linguistic data and/or analysis are given
in Table 2.
Lect Source
Proto-Malayic; Standard Indonesian [ind] Adelaar (1992)
Standard Malay [zsm] Collins (2008)
Penyengat (Bintan, Riau) Malay [zlm] S. Dahlan et al. (1990)
Karas (Riau) Malay [zlm] Dahlan (1989)
Lingga (Riau) Malay [zlm] Stokhof (1987)
Tioman Island Malay (southeast coast of
Peninsular Malaysia) [zlm] Collins (1985; eldwork 1982)
Natuna Islands Malay [zlm] Collins (1998a)
Map 4 Sea Tribe data points, Riau Archipelago.
282 283
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Lect Source
Johor Malay [zlm] A. Moain (1999)
Kedah Malay [zlm] Asmah Haji Omar (2008)
Nineteenth Century Jakun [jak?] 19 Skeat and Blagden (1906)
Modern Jakun, Northern Pahang [jak] Seidlitz (2005)
Temuan [tmw] A. Baer (1999), A. Lee (2004)
Deli Malay [zlm] E. Rafferty (1983)
Sakai [zlm] H. Kalipke and M.A. Kalipke
Minangkabau [min] Y. Kasim et al. (1987)
Jambi Malay [jax] Anderbeck (2008)
Kubu (Jambi) [kvb] A. Maryono et al. (1997)
South Sumatran Malay (for example Ogan, Enim,
Besemah [collectively pse], Palembang, Musi,
Rawas [collectively mui], Lembak [liw], others)
J. McDowell and Anderbeck
Belitung Malay [zlm] S. Napsin et al. (1986)
Haji [hji] Anderbeck (2007)
Bangka Malay [mfb] B. Nothofer (1997)
Lom (Bangka) [mfb] O. Smedal (1987)
West Kalimantan Malayic [zlm, xdy etcetera] and
Bidayuhic [scg etcetera]
H. Astar (2002), W. Kurniawati
(2002), N. Martis et al. (2002)
2.3 Methodology
This study employs techniques from historical linguistics and dialectology,
utilizing lexical data from a broad variety of Malay dialects to reach conclusions
of shared unique lexical items and shared consistent sound changes from
Proto-Malayic (PM). Sound changes analysed include reexes of PM *s, *r
and *h, *high vowels, ultimate *open syllables and others; see Section 3.2.
2.3.1 Data limitations
A number of data limitations were encountered in this study:
Lack of data. The shortest list is 6 items (Temiang – SnB)!
No data from some known groups like Orang Seletar and Orang Kanaq
(former Sea Tribe from around Batam, resettled in Johor; compare M.
19 It is unclear (as is explained in Section 1.4.3) whether one can draw a straight linguistic
line from the Jakun data of Skeat and Blagden (1906) to the Jakun language of today. Are they
the same language? That remains to be determined.
Table 2 External data sources (ISO 639-3 code in brackets if available).
282 283
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Musa (2011: 51)).
No or very limited data from some geographical areas, for example Natuna,
Anambas, many Riau islands, and peninsular Malay varieties.
Lack of phonetic detail, and varying orthographic standards:
most of the thirty-plus samples were from different elicitors;
many were produced before standardized transcription systems
like the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA);
the vowels are hardest to interpret; there is a frequent lack of clarity
between e and ə, for example;
different avours of r are also difcult to disambiguate, as are
nal k and ʔ.
Lack of morphological information.
Lack of comparable lexeme set - some have “tooth“, others don’t, but have
“nose“, etcetera.
Lack of sociolinguistic background.
2.3.2 Methodological limitations
In addition to the limitations imposed by the lack of data, some methodological
limitations exist also. For example, the summary of innovations discussed
below sometimes glosses over important factors. For example, even in
varieties where PM *a is raised after voiced obstruents, different lexemes
might be affected in one variety than another. One lect may show raising in
babi ‘pig’ but not in balik ‘return’, while the other lect may show the reverse
pattern. Nevertheless, both varieties are classed here as frequently raising
PM *a, obscuring the individual differences. Also, complex conditioning
environments or broader phenomena, like Temuan additive initial and nal
h in a variety of *environments (Lee 2004: 4), are classed as similar to simpler
phenomena, such as Mantang’s occasional addition of h after open vowels.
3 Analysis
In this section I present the detailed results of this study, including a discussion
of the classication of Sea Tribes lects, their primary sound changes, and
distinctives in the lexicon of the Bintan Sea Tribe.
3.1 Do the Sea Tribes speak Malayic?
Adelaar (2005: 360), in an update to his published reconstruction of Proto-
Malayic (Adelaar 1992), set forth 14 phonological developments from Proto-
Malayo-Polynesian which, taken together, dene the Malayic subgroup. He
adds (1992: 38) a nearly-universal post-PM development, the merger of PMP *e
(schwa) and *a in nal closed syllables. I will list only a few innovations here,
enough to demonstrate that all Sea Tribe lects should be classied as Malayic.
— PMP *j > d, for example PMP *qijuŋ ‘nose’ > PM *hiduŋ. All Sea Tribes
lects share in this development, with only Duano somewhat inconsistent
in this regard (see Section 1.4.2).
284 285
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
PMP *w > Ø, for example PMP *wahiR ‘water’ > PM *air. Same as above.
PMP *q > h, for example PMP *tuqa ‘old’ > PM *tuha. Same as above.
PMP *e > a /_C#, for example PMP *enem ‘six’ > most Malayic enam. Even
Duano is consistent in this area.
Unquestionably, the Sea Tribe lects, from north to south, are Malayic.
3.1.1 Sea Tribe lects – Malay or Malayic?
Tadmor (2002) makes the distinction between “Malay (a language) and Malayic
(a group of related languages)”. Since the sixteenth edition, the Ethnologue
(Lewis 2009) has attempted to reect this distinction in its classication system.
For example, Minangkabau is considered to have derived from Malay (Adelaar
1992) so is classied as “Malayic, Malay”, while Iban is not, so is classied
simply as “Malayic”.
This distinction is simple to make in theory and difcult to make in
practice. What is called for is a historical argument – if a particular variety is
not spoken by people who consider themselves Melayu, is it at least historically
derived from Malay? The problem is, Malay has been around since at least
the seventh century. We might consider a geographical argument if the
homeland of Malayic is Kalimantan, while the homeland of Malay is southeast
Sumatra, then perhaps a speech variety outside Kalimantan is most likely to
be Malay and not merely Malayic. But there are a couple problems with this:
rst, that we do not know that our ‘homeland’ suppositions are correct; and
second, speakers of non-Malay Malayic languages are theoretically as capable
of migrating as Malay speakers are. Also, if speakers of a non-Malayic language
shift over time to Malay in a process of gradual assimilation (as seems likely to
have happened with Duano and Jakun, at least), at what point do we consider
their speech Malay, especially if we still see some substratum effects?
For the upcoming seventeenth edition, I recommended to the Ethnologue
editors that all listed Malayic languages be classied as “Malay“ with the
following exceptions: 20 the six Ibanic lects (Iban [iba], Balau [blg], Mualang
[mtd], Remun [lkj], Seberuang [sbx] and Sebuyau [snb]), Kendayan/Selako
[knx], Malayic Dayak [xdy], Keninjal [knl], Urak Lawoi’ [urk] and Duano
[dup]. Iban and Kendayan seem to be the clearest examples of Malayic-not-
Malay, while Malayic Dayak (better termed “Dayak Malayic“ and including
Keninjal) I regard as only Malayic until proven Malay. Perhaps the same
agnostic stand can be taken for Urak Lawoi’ and Duano, two fairly divergent
varieties. Benjamin (2001: 101) says as much for Duano; Steinhauer (2008) does
not differentiate between Malay and Malayic in his discussion of Urak Lawoi’.
I close this section with the dampening words of Adelaar (1992: vi), which seem
as valid today as twenty years ago: “The question of the internal classication
of the Malayic subgroup, and hence the question of the difference between
‘Malay’ and ‘Malayic’ […] remains unanswered, and it is doubtful whether
20 The codes in brackets are the ISO 639-3 language codes.
284 285
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
sound solutions will be obtained from the comparative method alone”.21
3.2 Malayic Sea Tribe sound changes
The chief post-Proto-Malayic innovations discovered and compared on the
charts below are interpreted here.
Mutation of PM *a in closed penultimate (listed on the chart as *a > e
PU) and ultimate (*a > e ULT) syllables. This innovation is nearly always
connected in some way with voiced onset (whether syllable or word),
specically the voiced obstruent series b, d, j, and g, for example Akit jəlan
‘walk‘ < *jalan but no raising in kanan ‘right’. This phenomenon is discussed
in greater detail in, among others, Collins (1998a: 548), McDowell and
Anderbeck (2008), and most recently and in greatest detail, in T. Mckinnon
Lowering of PM *high vowels in penultimate position (HVâ PU) and in
ultimate position (HVâ ULT). An example of this is Barok 1986 esol ‘boil
(noun)‘ < PM *bisul. This innovation, which invariably only affects some
lexemes and not others, is discussed in detail in Adelaar (1992: 10, 42) and
Mutation of nal open *a, for example Tambus matə ‘eye’ < PM *mata. This
innovation, its manifestations and possible origin, is discussed in Tadmor
(2003). In Malayic lects outside Kalimantan this mutation at present is
nearly universal, but which vowel to which it changes is quite variable
between lects.
Closing of nal open syllables (*-V closed) with glottal stop (presumably
represented as k in some lists) or with h. For example Sekak duəʔ ‘two’ <
PM *dua.
One lexical innovation is included in the charts below, namely whether
the lect has the triplet kian ‘(come) here’, kiun ‘(go) there’ and kiuh ‘far off’.
Reexes of nal diphthongs *ay and *aw, like suŋe ‘river’ < *suŋay, or piso
‘knife’ < *pisaw.
Reexes of PM *h in initial, medial and nal position (usually h or Ø) are
presented by position.
Reexes of PM *r are presented similarly to *h, though I additionally looked
at reexes in medial clusters like in bersih ‘clean’. Given that many wordlists
probably did not distinguish orthographically between a voiceless uvular
fricative χ and an h, I marked all devoiced reexes as special.
Medial nasal-voiced-obstruent consonant clusters may show a reduction
or elimination of the obstruent component (NC > N), like tiŋgi or tiŋi ‘high’
< tiŋgi.
Medial nasal-voiceless-obstruent consonant clusters may show a reduction
or elimination of the nasal component (NC > C), like gutur ‘thunder’ <
“Preplosion“ on the chart is a cover term for basically any sort of variable
21 Perhaps the most conservative classicatory approach, therefore, would simply be
to dissolve the Malay node and keep everything in the Malayic group.
286 287
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
plosion or nasalisation word-nally such as discussed in R.A. Blust (1997),
Seidlitz (2005), Anderbeck (2008), and Steinhauer (2008). Examples of this
can range from nal *nasals to stops, as in urak ‘person’ < PM *uraŋ, to
pre- or post-plosion (urakŋ, uraŋk), to pre- or post-nasalisation of stops
(for example urant, uratn ‘vein’ < PM *urat).
A few lects, particularly Barok 1986, exhibit frequent loss of the initial
consonant (*C-loss) or even initial syllable in a word, for example tes ‘calf
(of leg)’ < PM *bətis.
The nal two innovations tracked, both in nal consonants, are *- > in,
for example Sumut OLaut kəʁin ‘dry’ < *kəriŋ, and *-s > ih, for example
tikuih ‘rat’ < *tikus.
Here are a few more notes on the chart:
The chart is broken up into four pieces to t on the page, and moves
roughly south-to-north.
Canonical Malay lects are sufxed with CM.
Asterisked cells are those which require more explanation. These are noted
below the chart.
I did not end up nding all the tracked innovations ultimately interesting
for subgrouping and left them all uncoloured on the chart. Interesting
(to me) innovations are shaded. Since presence of initial *h is very rare in
modern Malayic lects, I also shaded retention of initial *h.
286 287
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
features Belitung
CM 1986
Sekak 1881 Sekak
Barok 1906 Barok
*a > e PU no some strong strong strong ?no some strong
*a > e ULT no ?strong strong strong ?no some strong
HVâ PU no no rare some some ?common ?some
HVâ ULT common rare* rare most most ?common common common
nal *a əaaeəaəaʔ ə
*-V closed some 20%+h strong 20% some ?no strong strong
diphthongs aw, ay ai>e aw>o(ʔ)ay>e aw, ay aw ay, ey ?aw, ow
kian/kiun? no ? yes? yes yes ?yes yes ?
*h INIT Ø Ø Ø hØ ? h? Ø
*h MED Ø ? Ø Ø, V1hV1 Ø, V1hV1 ? h, Ø ? Ø
*h FIN Ø h+Ø Ø hhhh?h
*r INIT rrrχh? χ rØ
*r –V- rrrχh? χ rØ
*r CLUST rØ? rχ Ø ? χ ? ?
*r FIN r r r/ʔχhØ Ø r/Ø Ø
NC > N no yes yes no no no NCsome yes
NC > C no no no no no ?no no no
preplosion no no no no no ?no no no
*C- loss no no no no strong no? no no no
*-iŋ > in no no no no no ?no ?no
*-s > ih no no no no no ?no ?no
Table 3 Comparison of innovations, part 1 (Belitung and Sea Tribes).
288 289
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
features Mantang
Kallang 1900 Bintan
OLaut 2010
Karas CM
Lingga CM
CM 1990
OLaut 1930’s
*a > e PU some common ?common no no no no
*a > e ULT rare some ?some common no no no
HVâ PU common common some common ?some common common
HVâ ULT common most some common ?some some some*
nal *a a, ə ə aɰ ək a əa(h)
*-V closed no rare k or h no pro/dem* strong no no no
diphthongs aw, ay aw aw>o aw aw, ay aw, ay aw, ay aw, ay
kian/kiun? ? ? yes yes ?no ? ?
*h INIT hØ ? Ø Ø Ø, h Ø Ø
*h MED h? h, some Ø hØ, V1hV1 ? hØ, V1hV1 Ø, V1hV1
*h FIN h, some Ø hhhək? hhh
*r INIT h, some r ʁ? Ø ʔʁ ʁr
*r –V- h, some r ʁhØ ? ʁʁr
*r CLUST ? Ø ? Ø ? ʁʁr
*r FIN h, some r Ø ? hʔØ/ʁØh
NC > N some no ?no no no no some
NC > C no no no no no no no no
preplosion rare no no no yes no no no
*C- loss no some no no no no no no
*-iŋ > in no no ?no no no no no
Table 4 Comparison of innovations, part 2 (Sea Tribes and canonical Malay).
288 289
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
features ODarat
Batam 1905
Batam 1930’s
Akit 1930’s Akit 1991* Duano* OHutan
Tioman CM
Natuna CM
*a > e PU ? strong strong common no no strong strong*
*a > e ULT some common common some rare rare before *r strong*
HVâ PU common common common common no some strong rare
HVâ ULT common common some common rare rare common some
nal *a ə/a aʔ, ŏʔaʔe u a, ŏ ɨ ə
*-V closed no strong strong pro/dem no no some strong
diphthongs ? ow, ae ow, ay/ae aw, ay aw, i aw, ay aw, ay ay
kian/kiun? ? yes yes ?no* ???
*h INIT Ø, h Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø
*h MED ? Ø Ø Ø Ø, V1hV1 Ø V1hV1 h/Ø
*h FIN H h h h h/ʔhhh
*r INIT Rɣx h/ Ø ɣrɣ ɣ
*r –V- Rɣx h/χ ɣrɣ ɣ
*r CLUST ? ɣØØVːrØ ?
*r FIN ?ɘx χ Ø rəØVː
NC > N no some yes yes no some yes* no
NC > C no rare no no no no no no
preplosion no yes no no yes common no no
*C- loss no no no no no no no no
*-iŋ > in no no no no no common no no
*-s > ih ? no no no no no no no
Table 5 Comparison of innovations, part 3 (Riau tribal, Duano and eastern Riau Islands).
290 291
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
features Jakun 2003 Jakun
Temuan* Deli CM
CM 2008
Sumut OLaut
Kedah OLaut
Urak Lawoi
*a > e PU no rare no no no no no ?no
*a > e ULT no no no no no no no ?no
HVâ PU some rare rare common some some some ?no
HVâ ULT some low some common some some low rare ?common
nal *a a a a e a a a a a
*-V closed no; 2S-D yes* no h/ʔrare no? no no h? no
diphthongs aw aw, ay aw, ay aw, ay aw, ay aw, ay lower aw aw
kian/kiun? yes* yes no ? ? ? ? ? no?
*h INIT h hhhØ Ø h?h
*h MED h h h h Ø Ø, V1hV1 h h h
*h FIN h h h h Øh h h h
*r INIT r r Ørʁ ʁ ? ? r
*r –V- r r ɰrʁ ʁ ?r r
*r CLUST Ø rØrrʁ?r r
*r FIN r r ɰrʁkwi/yu Ø l
NC > N no no yes no yes* some no ?yes
NC > C no no no no no no yes no yes
preplosion yes yes yes no no no no ?yes
*C- loss no no no no no no no no no
*-iŋ > in no no yes no yes yes no ?no
*-s > ih no no no no yes yes ? ? yes
Table 6 Comparison of innovations, part 4 (Peninsular and northern).
290 291
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Sekak 1881: Final high vowels before *h are frequently lowered with
subsequent elision of h, for example taro ‘place (v.)’ < taruh, ole ‘by, by
means of’ < ulih. This innovation seems to have been lost/reversed in
1981 Sekak.
Another Sekak 1981 innovation not listed here: Subsequent to undergoing
the raising of **a, CVVC lexemes experienced apocope, with the apparent
path being jahit > jəit > jit, laut > ləut > lut, etcetera.
Barok 1906 exhibits epenthesis of palatal glide in muχtendiaŋ ‘kick’ (<
təndaŋ), haməŋgiaŋ ‘roast’ (< paŋgaŋ I assume) but not sirampaŋ ‘sh with a
trident’ – perhaps this occurs only after nasal-voiced stop (NvC) clusters?
No further examples are in the list.
Barok 1986 also differs from Barok 1906 in reference to the bullet above.
Specically, the two extant examples of nal *- following nasal-voiced-
stop clusters (umbaŋ ‘beetle’ < kumbaŋ, and iŋgaŋ ‘waist’ < piŋgaŋ) do not
exhibit any epenthesis of palatal glide in the vowel.
Mantang 1905 frequently exhibits ‘stretching’ of the penult for example
tahali ‘rope’ < *tali, kəhuniŋ ‘yellow’ < *kuniŋ, pəhutih ‘white’ < *putih. (Not
seen in Mantang 1986.)
Bintan Orang Laut innovations not shown on the chart include merger of
nal *k and *ʔ to ʔ (a common Malay innovation). Glottal stop is appended
to most pronouns, demonstratives, and interrogatives.
Karas Malay, spoken on Karas Besar island in Galang sub-district 1989:
many stops and nasals reportedly go to glottal stop, k or zero, like pəʔut
‘stomach’ < *pərut’, tiʔəʔ ‘three’ < **tiga.
Johor Malay (not on chart) is well-known to exhibit loss of nal *r and
frequent lowering of *high vowels (Moain 1999: 648).
Penyengat 1990: Elision of nal *r is accompanied by high vowel lowering.
Per. Dahlan et al. (1990), Senayang Malay, spoken on Senayang island in
Riau, is similar to Penyengat Malay but does not exhibit the loss of nal
*r, for example bɛbɛʁ ‘lip’ < *bibir, aeʁ ‘water’ < *air.
All Kähler (1960) lists are transcribed as having voiced nal consonants.
This is suspicious given that no other linguist has noted the same, and
his lists span territory from offshore mainland Riau to Batam and Bintan
Kähler OLaut frequently lowers nal *open high vowels (gige ‘tooth’ <
*gigi), a rarely-seen innovation.
Kähler ODarat (also to some extent in Akit and Hutan) maintains the
distinction between nal *k and *ʔ.
Akit 1991 also exhibits frequent loss of nal *l (not seen in Kähler Akit).
Kähler’s notation is ambiguous, but the Hutan data seem to optionally
debuccalize nal stops (for example, kuli(d) ‘skin’ < kulit).
Tioman Malay 1982: NC > N occurs only when the consonant cluster in
question is in the penult, for example təmagə ‘copper’ < **təmbaga.
Natuna Malay 1998: Conclusions are from the Sedanau dialect. The Serasan
292 293
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
dialect seems more conservative. The raising of *a, mostly after voiced
stops, usually results in [o] rather than [e] (Collins 1998a: 548).
Temuan innovations not shown in the chart: Not only is h frequently
appended to the ends of words, but 1) it is added to the beginning of
words reconstructed with an initial vowel (for example, hayam < PM *aɲam
‘weave’); and 2) nal oral consonants are frequently but not universally
debuccalized to h (for example, awah ‘early < awal, isah ‘gills’ < isaŋ).
Jakun 2003: Of the fourteen Jakun 2003 wordlists, eleven exhibit open a,
one exhibits ə, and two exhibit consistent closure with glottal stop. Because
the wordlists are short it is unclear whether Jakun 2003 has anything like
kian, kiun and kioh but note can ‘near’ and cun ‘far’.
Duano also has something like **kia/kəna/kəsut in place of the kian/kiun/
kiuh troika.
Sumut OLaut 1980 additionally innovates nal *l > i, for example tumpui
‘dull’ < tumpul.
Kedah Malay nal *l > i in the same pattern as Sumut OLaut. Some Kedah
Malay subdialects elide voiced stops after nasals, while others do not.
Urak Lawoi’: See Section 1.4.1 for additional Urak Lawoi’ innovations.
3.3 Lexical analysis
Due to the exigencies of time and space, I will centre my lexical analysis on
the 2010 Bintan Sea Tribe wordlist (see Appendix).
One of the most noticeable observations from looking at the approximately
230 words in the list is how standard is the vocabulary, and favouring
mainstream Peninsular Malay over Indonesian. Even though various sound
changes have acted upon the words, the lexemes themselves are usually the
same as mainstream Peninsular (like Johor) Malay. For example, kii ‘left’
is obviously cognate to standard Malay (SM) kiri, albeit with the loss of r.
Likewise, belɤʔ ‘when’ is cognate to standard Malay bila versus Indonesian
kapan and pokoʔ ‘tree’ versus Indonesian pohon. But not always is this the
case; compare bɤgɤymɤnɯ ‘how’ (Indonesian bagaimana) with Johor Malay
macam manə, and etoŋ ‘count’ (Indonesian hitung) vis-à-vis Johor Malay bilaŋ.
Only 10% of the list shows up as different from SM, and a good half of that
10% consists of items which also appear in SM, albeit as a variant form (for
example pərah ‘squeeze’) or with slightly different semantics, for example ŋet
‘mosquito’ (mainstream Malay rengit ‘gnat’). Compare this with Jambi Ilir,
with approximately 80% shared SM cognates, Jambi Ulu at approximately
74% (Anderbeck 2008: 77) or the Dayak Malayic of the Melawi River basin at
approximately 70% (Anderbeck and Sellato In progress).
Another way of looking at this is how few characteristically Sumatran
Malay lexical items appear in this list. Some examples: dii ‘stand’ instead of
təgaʔ, bɘ-kɘjɯ ‘work’ instead of bə-gawe, sayap ‘wing’ versus kəpaʔ, panas ‘hot’
versus (h)aŋat, meah ‘red’ versus abaŋ, pokoʔ ‘tree’ versus bataŋ. But common
Sumatran Malay words sometimes do appear, like Bintan kɘ͡ɰat ‘cut, hack’
(Jambi Malay kərat), pɘpaʔ ‘chew’ (South Sumatran Malay same), ekɤʔ ‘this’
292 293
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
(Musi, Jambi Malay, also found in Jakun).
The aberrant words in the list are so few as to allow mentioning all of
them. First, two forms of which I have no record appearing elsewhere: pɘŋaʔ
‘cloud’, usaʔ ‘don’t’ (although for the latter compare Indonesian tidak usah ‘not
necessary’). The list also has some rare but not completely unknown items:
koyoʔ, the nearly universal word for ‘dog’ among the Riau Sea Tribes, can
also be found in other tribal lects of the area, the Holle Lingga (canonical
Malay) list, in southwestern Sumatra (Musi, Enim, Lembak, Haji), in
Sekak, in West Kalimantan Bidayuhic, and probably in northwestern
Kalimantan Malayic ukuy. Although Seidlitz (2005) did not elicit ‘dog’ in
modern Jakun, the same lexeme can be found in four of SnB’s nineteenth
century ‘Jakun’ lists.
uaʔ, the most common term for ‘father’ among the Riau Sea Tribes, is also
seen in a dialect of Pontianak Malay, Duano, Jakun, and Bangka/Lom,
and possibly cognate with the dialectal Ogan form ubaʔ. It is likely cognate
with SM uak ‘elder (in family relationships); term of address for father or
mother’s grandfather’.
tikam ‘throw’ exhibits an evident semantic shift from ‘stab’ shared with
Duano, Bangka/Lom and a few West Kalimantan Malayic isolects. It is
possible this semantic shift occurred among maritime populations as the
main thing they would be ‘stabbing’ would be sea creatures using a thrown
mɘ-leleh ‘ow’ also appears in Duano, and as a rare form in Besemah,
Jakun, Kalimantan Malayic and Kalimantan Bidayuhic. Also compare
Urak Lawoi’ nileh ‘to ow out’.
koteʔ ‘tail’: Besides Sekak and Riau Sea Tribe lects, I have only otherwise
found this in R.J. Wilkinson’s (1959) Malay-English dictionary.
kiun ‘go over there’ appears in a dialect of Jambi Kubu as ‘that’ and in a
dialect of Minangkabau as ‘there’. See also the discussion in Section 1.5.
— Bintan mikɯ ‘you (singular)’ seems rare, shared with Perak Malay (Kin
1999: 46), Orang Darat Batam (Holle) and Kubu (and one data point in
Jambi Ulu close to Kubu as ‘you (plural)’).
saŋap ‘yawn’ is shared with Kähler Orang Hutan, Darat, and Akit (latter
as səlaŋab), and Duano and Jakun.22
Although four rare items are shared with Duano, as I was eliciting the Bintan
list I asked the informant if he recognized a number of other unique Duano
forms and in all cases except the above the answer was negative. Since Duano
has a number of unique sound changes not shared by Bintan, I consider the
possibility of a signicant relationship between the two lects as unlikely, and
the shared vocabulary as due to contact.
A few rare lexical connections can be seen variously with Bangka/Lom,
Jakun, Kubu and Besemah, but it is hard to know what if anything to conclude
22 It is unclear whether Barok uŋap is closely related to saŋap or is a metathesis of (mə)
294 295
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
from this.
Here are a number of brief notes on Urak Lawoi’ (UL) lexical items:
— UL apok ‘father’ is probably cognate to Kedah Orang Laut apung identical.
Another shared item is nanak ‘child’.
UL also has a number of commonalities with the SnB Kappir list: nibini
‘woman’ (< bini-bini); Kappir ma ‘mother’ and pa ‘father’ resemble UL maʔ
and paʔ; and Kappir cəlaki ‘man’ resembles UL kilaki (< laki-laki).
— UL lulu and modern Jakun lolok ‘meat’. These are possibly reduplications
of lauk ‘solid food to be eaten with rice’.
— UL brulak and modern Jakun bəlolaŋ ‘skin’ (Malay ‘pelt; hide’).
— UL sudɔʔ and modern Jakun cedoʔ ‘dig’.
— UL gabɔʔ ‘rotten’, Duano ɣɘpʊəʔ, lapoʔ, Sekadau ʁopok all seem related, if
Interesting set ‘throw’: Urak Lawoi’ məlatik, Rawas luti, Musi letok, Muko-
Muko latiaŋ, Bangka məlidəŋ, Jakun lɔtɔ.
Here are a few notes on Duano lexical items:
See above for mention of ‘father’, ‘ow’, ‘throw’, ‘yawn’ and ‘rotten’.
bisa ‘sick, painful’; SM ‘venom’ is also found in Jakun, Orang Darat Batam,
Akit (Kähler) and Tambus.
— Duano kukut ‘hand’ is shared with SnB ‘Jakun’ kokot.
4 Conclusions
4.1 Diachronic findings
4.1.1 Origins
Is there evidence of a non-Malayic substratum in Sea Tribes lects? Besides the
doubtful lexical examples discussed in Section 1.5, nothing of note has been
uncovered for Riau Sea Tribe lects.23 One contrary note, a seeming archaism,
is found in SnB’s Barok list: murtendiaŋ ‘kick’, composed of Malay təndaŋ ‘kick’
plus a *mar prex found in Old Malay but rarely elsewhere (Adelaar 2008:
13; Benjamin 2009: 307). If this (lone) prex is truly a retention from ancient
forms of Malayic, the case would be strengthened that at least some Sea Tribe
lects represent a continuation of Proto-Malayic.
I do not have time or space here to explore the same for the more aberrant
Urak Lawoi’ or Sekak except to say that an exploration of possible substratum
in Sekak is undertaken in the manuscript mentioned above, while the question
of Duano origins is touched upon in Section 1.4.2.
4.1.2 Between the centuries
We have the benet of a number of putative pairs of wordlists which can be
examined for sound changes and other trends:
23 One word in the Orang Darat Batam (Holle) list may have an Aslian origin: kot/kat
‘no‘, compare Besisi ŋot identical. See also the discussion of Duano in Section 1.4.2.
294 295
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Barok 1906 and Barok 1986: In spite of the identical names given to
these two lists, they seem to represent separate subvarieties. I make this
judgement on the basis of signicant differences in their lexicon and sound
changes. The same is the case for the two Galang lists (1906 and 1986), and
the two Mantang lists (1905 and 1986).
Sekak 1881 and 1981: As discussed in Section 1.4.4, the Sekak of 1981 is
much more mainstream lexically than its 1881 counterpart, although the
two varieties are clearly akin.
The Duano lists from 1884, 1906, 1939, and 2005 show clear afnity. It
is unclear whether their inevitable lexical and phonological differences
should be attributed to change over time or to dialectal variation which
is relatively signicant in modern-day Duano.
In spite of the small and seemingly concentrated population of the (Rupat)
Akit group, the 1991 data show signicant discontinuities (as well as some
continuities) with the data from the 1930’s. Both show complete devoicing
of PM *r and reduction of medial nasal-voiced stop clusters to the nasal
component. Both show raising of *a after voiced plosives, although the
proportion of affected lexemes is much smaller in the later sample, for
example 1930’s Akit dŏtaŋ ‘come’ versus 1991 dataŋ. Initial *r is often lost
in 1991 but not in the earlier sample. 1930’s Akit evinces the closure of
basically all *open nal syllables with glottal stop, which is much rarer in
1991 Akit. Instead, we see mutation of nal *a in the newer sample, with
an occasional excrescent h (for example, bətinah ‘female’ < earlier bətina),
neither of which is seen in 1930’s Akit. Neither occasional metathesis of
*r in 1991 Akit (rusa ‘deer’ > usəχ, səribu ‘thousand’ > sibuχ, bərsih ‘clean’
> bəsiχ) nor loss of nal *l (jəŋkal ‘hand span’ > jeŋge, tuŋgal ‘one and only’
> tuŋe) are seen in older Akit. Lexically, very few non-mainstream items
in 1930’s Akit appear in the 1991 list (naŋuy ‘pig’ is the sole exception)
or the reverse. If not for the likely historical continuity between the two
samples, I would conclude that these are two distinct but geographically
proximate dialects.
The Batam Orang Darat samples are separated by about three decades;
Holle Orang Darat in 1905 and the Kähler list in the 1930’s. The two
lists show a perplexing diversity similar to the Akit lists. Because of the
shortness of the Holle list, some questions about potential innovations
remain unanswered. The commonalities: some *a raising, lowering of
*high vowels and sporadic mutation of nal open *a in approximately
equal measure. The differences: *open nal syllables remain open in
Holle, but are regularly closed with glottal stop in Kähler. Signicantly,
Kähler regularly transcribed the nal nasals as preploded (for example,
oɣagən ‘person’ < *uraŋ) while no preplosion is transcribed in the Holle
list. Equally signicantly, Holle reexes of penultimate *ə, as far as can
be discerned, usually remained ə (transcribed as e), while in Kähler most
go to o: compare Holle kera ‘monkey’ (SM kəra) to Kähler koɣag. In terms
of non-mainstream lexical items, a couple of shared rarities (kot ‘no’ and
296 297
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
bəleŋkok ‘crooked’) seem to be outweighed by differences (for example oroŋ
‘walk’ versus jalan, molek ‘good’ versus bŏig, mika and aɲe ‘you (singular)’
versus dikou, matei apa apa ‘why’ versus apa konaʔ).24 My conclusion (or
confusion) with these two lists is the same as for the Akit lists.
We can see a very interesting progression of certain “cosmopolitan“
innovations over the century, namely mutation of nal open *a, and elision of
initial *h. Final open *a mutation, for example matə ‘eye’ < *mata, is nowadays
nearly universal in canonical Malay lects. This is not necessarily true of non-
canonical Malay. For example, one of the salient differences between Jakun
and its Melayu neighbours is whether nal *a is raised. Similarly in Jambi,
Melayu *a has universally rounded to o, while in Kubu, rounding is variable.
Among the Riau lists, unmutated nal open *a is preserved in Temiang 1906,
Galang 1906, Kallang 1906 and even the canonical Lingga 1895, and variably
preserved in Mantang 1905 and Orang Darat 1905. The new Riau lists, both
canonical and non-canonical, consistently reect ə.
The picture is rather the same with initial *h. Barok 1906, Tambus 1905 and
Mantang 1905 retain *h, and in Orang Darat 1905 and canonical Lingga 1895
retention of initial *h is variable, while in modern Riau lects (or even those
documented by Kähler in the 1930’s) the phoneme has completely disappeared
from this position. The spread of these two innovations in Riau, the seeming
epicentre for many Malayic innovations, is thus given a valuable chronology.
Both of these innovations are quite new, in terms of the 1500-plus-year history
of Malay in the region.
Another cosmopolitan innovation is the lowering of *high vowels
(Anderbeck 2008: 31–33). It is noteworthy that, unlike the innovations affecting
*-a and *h, no trend toward greater lowering can be seen in this time period.
We can perhaps conclude that this innovation, at least in Riau, is the result of
an older process that had already completed by the previous century.
The raising of *a after voiced obstruents also shows a noticeable increase
over the century in Sekak, Galang and Mantang. This is puzzling, for if
one looks at the distribution of this innovation in the Malay World, it is
most frequently found in peripheral and tribal areas. If this is indeed a relic
innovation, why does it show an increase over time in the Riau Islands?
4.2 Synchronic findings
Karas Malay seems to be a real outlier whether compared to its fellow canonical
Riau Malay lects, or to Riau Sea Tribe lects, but data are lacking.
The non-canonical Malay groups in Riau (and Johor?), Duano excepted, are
extremely mainstream lexically, more mainstream than canonical Malay lects
in Bangka, Jambi, Kalimantan, et cetera. However, they are phonologically
much more divergent than canonical Malay varieties in Riau (Karas Malay
excepted). Are they more phonologically divergent than Malayic lects
24 Of course, any or all of these differences might be solely attributable to synonymy
rather than complete lack of the non-mainstream lexeme in question.
296 297
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
elsewhere? It is difcult to tell given the lack of phonetic detail in the data, and
difcult to dene ‘divergence’ as well. Certainly they are more conservative
than the most divergent lects like Kerinci, Duano and Urak Lawoi’.
The most signicant nding of this study is that Riau Sea Tribe lects
seem to basically cohere as a dialect group (Tambus and Kähler’s Orang Laut
excepted), with the following innovations:
— *a raising after voiced obstruents
frequent *-V closing
(lexically mainstream)
(less universal) NC > N
— *r devoicing (Mantang 1986 evidently an exception)
loss of initial and nal *r (shared with Riau canonical Malay)
nal open *a raised to ə/ɘ/ɨ (shared with Riau canonical Malay)
The fact that this bundle of innovations exists, largely independent
from canonical Riau Malay, seems to provide evidence of substantial social
separation or at least diglossic differentiation between canonical Malays and
tribal groups. The latter (differentiation) may be more likely, given the fact
that Galang, historically the group most intimately involved with Riau Malay
leadership (Chou 2003: 18), evinces some of the strongest adherence to these
What about other groups in the area? Akit, a tribal but not (currently)
a Sea Tribe, ts right in to this group linguistically. The presumably now-
extinct Batam Orang Darat (1905 and 1930’s) shows signicant similarity to
the Sea Tribe cluster, while Kähler’s Orang Hutan does not t that well, nor
do other tribal groups, notably Duano, Jakun, and Temuan. Another outlier,
problematic for my thesis, is Kähler’s Orang Laut dataset. It is nearly as
phonologically conservative as Lingga canonical Malay (1895), with only some
reduction of medial voiced consonant clusters and devoicing of nal *r to show
that it belongs in the area. I do not have a good explanation for this pattern.
Sekak (old and new) linguistically mirrors its geographical position in
relation to Riau: obviously related but not intimately. Its lexicon has many
disjunctures with Riau, as does its phonology, with minimal vowel lowering,
no devoicing of *r and reduction of nal *diphthongs.
How does Bangka Malay/Lom relate to these? The short answer is that
Bangka dialects are very different from the Riau Sea Tribe cluster as well
as from Sekak, lexically and phonologically. There are some similarities;
three Bangka subdialects show NC > N: Lom, Gunung Muda, and Gadung.
Penultimate raising of *a after voiced obstruents can also be found frequently
in Pelaik, Kacung, Kacung 2, Gunung Muda, Perlang, and Pakuk, and less
frequently in Arung Dalem and Lom Tuatunu. Note that the locations with
*a raising overlap only slightly with those displaying the NC > N innovation;
Gunung Muda alone shows both innovations.25
25 Intriguingly, the Upstream Kutai Malay (Kota Bangun) dialect evinces both NC > N
and raising of *a after voiced obstruents (Collins 1991: 9). However, because of other signicant
298 299
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
What about Jambi Suku Anak Dalam/Kubu (another tribal group)? On
the afrmative side, *a raising is frequent. We see kiun ‘there’ in one dialect
(and also in a couple Minangkabau dialects). On the negative side, lexically
Kubu is not very mainstream, no NC > N is seen, it is conservative about *h,
even initially, and it does not seem to have loss of initial *r while nal *r is
mixed. I conclude that connections are not that tight between Kubu and the
Riau Sea Tribe cluster.
The second major nding is the similarity between Riau Sea Tribes and
the canonical Malay lects spoken on the Natunas and Tioman (Map 5); both
share *a raising, *-V closing and loss of nal *r with Riau Sea Tribes. We can
go a few different directions with these observations:
Sopher (1977: 114) documents the extensive Sea Tribe population on
the Natuna islands which by the end of the nineteenth century was
nearly fully assimilated with the Malays. We could therefore take the
sociolinguistically-doubtful position that Riau Sea Tribes inuenced the
canonical Malay there.
We could posit the origin of the Riau Sea Tribes from the Natuna islands
and environs. This seems unlikely from a geographical perspective
migration from the periphery to the centre.
The most likely scenario would be to posit an earlier Riau Islands Malay
including both sedentary Malays and Sea Tribes, a form of speech which
was later levelled out via contact to a more unmarked form in most
canonical Malay groups except those on the periphery (Natuna, Tioman).26
innovations, most saliently the merger of penultimate PM *ə and *a, Collins classies Kutai
Malay with other eastern Borneo Malay lects.
26 Given that initial *r has not been lost in Natuna or Tioman, while it has been lost
virtually everywhere in the core Riau Archipelago, signies that loss of initial *r may be a more
recent innovation.
Map 5 Pulau Tujuh including Anambas and Natuna Islands (Collins 1998a: 540).
298 299
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Map 6 shows ancient trade routes which would have encouraged close
relationships within the span of the archipelago.
Moving north, Sumut OLaut, Kedah Malay, Kedah OLaut (1814), Kappir,
and Urak Lawoi’ seem to be part of the same loose dialect network (while
maintaining their own distinctives):
palatalization of *-s (Kedah OLaut and Kappir unknown);
*- > in (only Kedah Malay and Sumut OLaut; also Kähler OHutan);
NC > N (Urak Lawoi’, some subdialects of Kedah Malay, very limited in
Sumut OLaut but not Kedah OLaut, and unknown in Kappir);
NC > C (Urak Lawoi’ and Kedah OLaut);
loss of nal *r (Kedah OLaut and Kappir);
lexical connections between UL and Trang/Kappir.
Despite the scanty evidence, it seems Kedah OLaut was not the 200 year-old
progenitor of Urak Lawoi’. Although they seem to have shared the same
island, if early Urak Lawoi’ had lost nal *r, this phoneme could not have
later reappeared then lateralized into l.
As Collins (1988) argues, it would not be appropriate to make the leap from
noting these broad similarities between Sumut OLaut, Kedah OLaut, Kappir,
and Urak Lawoi’ to proclaiming the existence of “Northern Sea Tribes Malay“.
Instead, these lects (past and present) are embedded within, not separate from,
the larger network of Malayic lects.
Map 6 Ancient trade routes from Maluku and Philippines to Malacca (Collins 1986:
300 301
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
4.3 Directions for future research
This is only a preliminary armchair survey of Sea Tribe lects. Much additional
eld research is needed to obtain a more complete picture of the dialects of this
area, whether canonical Malay or tribal. Specically, research is needed to ll
in the data limitations mentioned earlier: learning more about Anambas Malay,
Karas Malay and sampling the forty-ve Sea Tribes territories mentioned in
Chou (2010). The Riau Archipelago through to Bangka and Belitung should
be the highest priority. Benjamin (2009: 318) calls researchers to seek for more
archaic features (such as the inxes um- and –in-, or the prex mar-/mər-) in
hopes of nding “a distant echo of the kind of linguistic matrix out of which
Malay proper began to emerge around two millennia ago”. The time has also
come to go deeper than just collecting a wordlist here and there, to focusing on
grammar,27 text collection,28 sociolinguistics, and anthropological linguistics
(Sea Tribe directionals for example). Duano in particular would benet from
more substantial historical linguistic attention.
Research could probe for additional connections with other Malay lects,
particularly with Natuna and Sarawak Malay. In general, the question could
be asked whether the older Riau lects more resemble the Malay of Sumatra,
Peninsular Malaysia or Borneo. In that vein, the type of work Collins has
done (1988, 1996, 1998a), seeking to tease apart various layers of contact and
inuence, has only here been attempted in the most rudimentary fashion.
Any linguistic research into historical connections faces limitations as
more recent inuences obscure older patterns. If “language history is a kind
of palimpsest” (Blust 2010: 64), our experience here with the lects identied
as Barok, Sekak, Akit, and Orang Darat seems to indicate that many of these
groups are particularly susceptible to the fading and disappearance of older
linguistic layers. Caveat emptor, therefore, to future researchers!
In the arena of sociolinguistics, it would be helpful to examine the language
ecology as the physical and cultural environment is rapidly changing. Certainly,
some groups have already assimilated and others will soon follow, so there is
some urgency to research in this area. When looking at intergroup relations, it
would be good to keep in mind Chou’s (2003: 45) picture of signicant rivalry
between groups. Reports of unintelligible languages (“rivalling Orang Laut
may pretend not to comprehend each other” (Chou 2010: 6)), or of people with
exotic/evil practices or completely distinct origins, should be taken with a
grain of salt and triangulated with other evidence whenever possible.
27 I have exploited only a fraction of the information in Kähler (1960). In general, we
would do well to heed Steinhauer’s (1988: 151) cautionary conclusion: “Macassarese Malay
(or should it be Malay Macassarese?) lends strong support to the theory that large scale lexical
replacement is a possible cause of language birth […] Comparative historical research with
regard to languages such as Malay should take such possibilities into account. Undue emphasis
on lexical aspects with disregard of grammar may lead to unrealistic pictures of language
28 Chou reports having collected a substantial number of Galang texts. These texts could
be analysed as a starting point.
300 301
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
4.4 Final thoughts
We set out on this journey, not seeking aromatic resins or gold, but a clearer
understanding, driven not by the monsoons but by curiosity and scientic
interest. I hope we can say we reached our initial destination, guided by the
experts in the matter, the people of the sea. Here is some cargo for our ship’s
return voyage:
The Malayic languages spoken by the Sea Tribes are not some exotic
creatures; in fact they t quite nicely (with the exception of Duano) within the
larger network of Malayic lects of the region. We have seen that the fourfold
division of Sea Tribe lects (Kedah, Duano, Riau Islands, and Sekak) seems
generally to hold while, given similarities to canonical Malay lects like Kedah,
Johor, and Natunas, we should not gratuitously assume that the Orang Laut
ethnic identity confers some special linguistic status. That having been said,
certain lects seem to have a quite salient identity, particularly Duano, Urak
Lawoi’, Sekak, and the Riau Sea Tribes cluster.
No longer at the centre of the Malay kingdoms, the Orang Laut way of life
continues to fade away, and language loss is a casualty in the cultural tumult
the Sea Tribes are facing. May we learn all we can about these unique people
and their speech before it is too late.
Adelaar, K. Alexander. 1992. Proto-Malayic; The reconstruction of its phonology
and parts of its lexicon and morphology. Canberra: Australian National
University. [Pacic Linguistics C-119.]
Adelaar, K. Alexander. 2005. “Malayo-Sumbawan”, Oceanic Linguistics 44
(2): 357–388.
Adelaar, K. Alexander. 2008. “On the classiability of Malayic”, in: Yuri
Lander and Alexander Ogloblin (eds), Language and text in the Austronesian
world; Studies in honour of Ülo Sirk, pp. 1–22. Munich: LINCOM. [LINCOM
Studies in Austronesian Linguistics 06.]
Andaya, Barbara Watson and Leonard Andaya. 2001. A history of Malaysia.
Second edition. London: Palgrave. [First edition 1982.]
Andaya, Leonard. 2008. Leaves of the same tree; Trade and ethnicity in the Straits
of Melaka. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Anderbeck, Karl. 2007. “Haji; One language from twelve”, in: Chong Shin,
Karim Harun, and Yabit Alas (eds), Reections in Southeast Asian seas;
Essays in honour of professor James T. Collins, Vol. II, pp. 51–91. Pontianak:
STAIN Pontianak Press.
Anderbeck, Karl. 2008. Malay dialects of the Batanghari River Basin (Jambi,
Sumatra). Dallas: SIL International. [SIL e-Books 6:
silepubs/abstract.asp?id=50415, accessed on 15-8-2008.]
Anderbeck, Karl and Bernard Sellato. In progress. Pattern in the patchwork?
Language, ethnicity and classication in inland Borneo.
Anderbeck, Karl and Uri Tadmor. In progress. Language assimilation among
the Sea People of Belitung.
302 303
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Arnaud, Véronique, Henri Campagnolo, and Christian Pelras. 1997. Lexique
thématique plurilingue de trente-six langues et dialectes d’Asia du Sud-Est
insulaire [Thematic multilingual lexicon of thirty-six languages]. Paris:
Asmah Haji Omar. 2008. Susur galur bahasa Melayu. Second edition Kuala
Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. [First edition 1985.]
Astar, Hidayatul. 2002. Kosakata dasar Swadesh di kotamadya Pontianak dan
kabupaten Pontianak. Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa.
Baer, Adela. 1999. A Temuan-English-Malay lexicon. Keene, NH. [Adela S. Baer
Papers 2: Manuscripts, 1968-1991, 2001, Digital File.]
Barnard, Timothy (ed.). 2004. Contesting Malayness; Malay identity across
boundaries. Singapore: Singapore University Press.
Barnard, Timothy. 2007. “Celates, Rayat-Laut, pirates; The Orang Laut and
their decline in history”, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic
Society 80(2): 33–49.
Benjamin, Geoffrey. 2001. “Orang Asli languages; From heritage to death?”, in:
Razha Rashid and Wazir Jahan Karim (eds), Minority cultures of peninsular
Malaysia; Survivals of indigenous heritage, pp. 101–122. Penang: Academy
of Social Science (AKASS).
Benjamin, Geoffrey. 2002. “On being tribal in the Malay world”, in: Geoffrey
Benjamin and Cynthia Chou (eds), Tribal communities in the Malay world,
pp. 7–76. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Benjamin, Geoffrey. 2009. “Afxes, Austronesian and iconicity in Malay”,
Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 165(2-3): 291–323.
Benjamin, Geoffrey and Cynthia Chou (eds). 2002. Tribal communities in the
Malay World; Historical, cultural and social perspectives. Singapore: Institute
of Southeast Asian Studies.
Blagden, Charles Otto. 1906. “Language”, in: Walter William Skeat and Charles
Otto Blagden (eds), Pagan races of the Malay peninsula, Vol. 2, pp. 379–775.
London: Macmillan.
Blust, Robert. 1981. “Variation in retention rate among Austronesian
languages”. Paper, The Third International Conference on Austronesian
Linguistics, Bali, 19-24 January.
Blust, Robert. 1997. “Nasals and nasalization in Borneo”, Oceanic Linguistics
36(1): 149–179.
Blust, Robert. 2010. “The Greater North Borneo hypothesis”, Oceanic Linguistics
49(1): 44–118.
Chambers, J.K. and Peter Trudgill. 1998. Dialectology. Second edition.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [First edition 1981.]
Chou, Cynthia. 2003. Indonesian sea nomads; Money, magic, and fear of the Orang
Suku Laut. New York: Routledge.
Chou, Cynthia. 2010. The Orang Suku Laut of Riau, Indonesia; The inalienable gift
of territory. London: Routledge.
Chou, Cynthia and Vivienne Wee. 2002. “Tribality and globalization; The
Orang Suku Laut and the ‘Growth Triangle’ in a contested environment”,
302 303
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
in: Geoffrey Benjamin and Cynthia Chou (eds), Tribal communities in the
Malay world, pp. 318–363. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Collins, James T. 1985. “The phonology of Tioman Malay and the reconstruction
of Proto-Malay”, in: Suriya Ratanakul, David Thomas, and Suwilai
Premsrirat (eds), Southeast Asian Linguistic Studies Presented to André-G.
Haudricourt, pp. 541-566. Bangkok: Institute of Language and Culture
for Rural Development, Mahidol University. [Http://
Collins, James T. 1986. “Dunia Melayu dan dialek Melayu; Wilayah Laut
China barat daya”, Dewan Bahasa 30: 895–907.
Collins, James T. 1988. “Wilayah dialek Kedah; Bukti dari Sumatera Utara”,
Dewan Bahasa 32: 494–525.
Collins, James T. 1989. “Malay dialect research in Malaysia; The issue of
perspective”, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 145: 235–264.
Collins, James T. 1991. “Bahasa Melayu di Sungai Mahakam; Siasatan fonologi
dialek Kutai”, Sari 10: 3–24.
Collins, James T. 1995. Bibliogra dialek Melayu di pulau Sumatera. Kuala
Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
Collins, James T. 1996. “Dialek Melayu Selangor; Tinjauan di Jugra”, Khazanah
dialek Melayu: 89–108.
Collins, James T. 1997. “The Malays and non-Malays of Kalimantan Barat;
Evidence from the study of language”. Paper, The International Conference
on Tribal Communities in the Malay World, Singapore, 24-27 March.
Collins, James T. 1998a. “Bahasa Melayu di Kepulauan Natuna; Tafsiran dan
klasikasi awal”, Dewan Bahasa 42: 539–555.
Collins, James T. 1998b. Malay, world language; A short history. Kuala Lumpur:
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
Collins, James T. 2008. “Lampiran 1: Enam varian Bidayuhik di lembah
Sekadau, Kalimantan Barat”, in: Chong Shin (ed.), Bahasa Bidayuhik di
Borneo barat, pp. 103–118. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
Dahlan, Saidat. 1989. Geogra dialek bahasa Melayu Riau Kepulauan. Jakarta:
Pusat Bahasa.
Dahlan, Saidat, M. R. Yunus, Abdullah Manan, and Abdul Razak. 1990.
Struktur bahasa Melayu Riau dialek Pasir Pangaraian. Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa.
Erard, Michael. 2005. “How linguists and missionaries share a Bible of 6,912
languages”, New York Times 19 July.
Hogan, David. 1972. “Men of the sea; Coastal tribes of South Thailand’s west
coast”, Journal of the Siam Society 60: 205–235.
Hogan, David. 1988. Urak Lawoi’; Basic structures and a dictionary. Canberra:
Australian National University. [Pacic Linguistics C-109.]
Hudson, A. B. 1967. The Barito isolects of Borneo; A classication based on
comparative reconstruction and lexicostatistics. Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia
Program, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University.
Kadir, Mohd. Daud, M. Yunus R., and Sitti Syamsiar. 1986. Dialek bahasa Orang
Laut. Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa.
304 305
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Kähler, Hans. 1946a. “Ethnographische und linguistische studien von den
Orang Laut auf der Insel Rangsang an der Ostküste von Sumatra”,
Anthropos 41/44(1/3): 1–31.
Kähler, Hans. 1946b. “Ethnographische und linguistische studien von den
Orang Laut auf der Insel Rangsang an der Ostküste von Sumatra”,
Anthropos 41/44(4/6): 757–785.
Kähler, Hans. 1960. Ethnographische und linguistische Studien über die Orang
Darat, Orang Akit, Orang Laut und Orang Utan im Riau-Archipel und
auf den Inseln an der Ostküste von Sumatra. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer.
[Veröffentlichungen des Seminars für Indonesische und Südseesprachen
der Universität Hamburg Band 2.]
Kalipke, Hans and Mohamad Agar Kalipke. 2001. Wörterbuch Sakai-Indonesisch-
Deutsch. Hamburg: Buske.
Kasim, Yuslina, Marjusman Maksan, Syamsir Arin, and Muhamad Yamin
Zailoet. 1987. Pemetaan bahasa daerah di Sumatra Barat dan Bengkulu. Jakarta:
Pusat Bahasa.
Kin, Quah Chiew. 1999. “A relocation of Malay language varieties based on
the diglossic description”, Sari 17: 37–55.
Kurniawati, Wati. 2002. Kosakata dasar Swadesh di kabupaten Sanggau dan Sintang.
Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa.
Lee, Alan. 2004. “The Temuan language of Ulu Selangor”. Paper, The Eighth
International Symposium on Malay/Indonesian linguistics (ISMIL 8),
Penang, 31 July-2 August.
Lenhart, Lioba. 1997. “Orang Suku Laut ethnicity and acculturation”, Bijdragen
tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 153(4): 577–604.
Lenhart, Lioba. 2001. “Orang Suku Laut communities at risk; Effects of
modernisation on the resource base, livelihood and culture of the ‘Sea
Tribe people’ of the Riau Islands”, Nomadic Peoples 5(2): 67–86.
Lenhart, Lioba. 2002. “Orang Suku Laut identity; The construction of ethnic
realities”, in: Geoffrey Benjamin and Cynthia Chou (eds), Tribal communities
in the Malay world, pp. 293–317. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian
Lewis, M. Paul (ed.). 2009. Ethnologue, languages of the world. Sixteenth edition
Dallas: SIL International. [First edition 1951.]
Mahdi, Waruno. 2009. “In search of an historical Sea-People Malay dialect with
-aba-”, in: K. Alexander Adelaar and Andrew Pawley (eds), Austronesian
historical linguistics and culture history; A festschrift for Robert Blust, pp. 73–89.
Canberra: Pacic Linguistics. [Pacic Linguistics 601.]
Mama, Joe. 2010. “Panggil saja kami Orang Sawang”, Kompas. [Http://cetak. read/xml/2010/01/22/05540726/panggil.saja.kami.orang.
sawang, accessed on 22-1-2010.]
Martis, Non, Buha Aritonang, Hidayatul Astar, and Wati Kurniawati. 2002.
Monogra kosakata dasar Swadesh di kabupaten Ketapang, Kapuas Hilir, dan
Sambas. Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa, Departemen Pendidikan Nasional..
Maryono, Albertus Sinaga, Agus Setyonegoro, and Ade Kusmana. 1997.
304 305
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Dialektologi bahasa Kubu; Laporan penelitian. Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa,
Departemen Pendidikan Nasional..
McDowell, Jonathan and Karl Anderbeck. 2008. Bhinnêka Tunggal Ika: unity in
diversity; Malayic varieties of southern Sumatra. [Unpublished draft.]
Mckinnon, Timothy. 2012. “A survey of phonation driven vowel shifts in
traditional Malay(ic)”. Paper, The Sixteenth International Symposium of
Malay/Indonesian Linguistics (ISMIL 16), Kelaniya-Sri Lanka, 22-24 June.
Moain, Amat Juhari. 1999. “Dialek Melayu Johor”, in: Hussain Saan (ed.),
Ensiklopedia sejarah dan kebudayaan Melayu, pp. 648-649. Kuala Lumpur:
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
Musa, Mahani. 2011. “The socioeconomic history of the Orang Kanaq of Johor”,
Kajian Malaysia 29(1): 47–74.
Napsin, Syahrul, Zainal Abidin Naning, Selamet Abdullah, and Zulkarnain
Mustafa. 1981. Struktur bahasa Sekak. Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa.
Napsin, Syahrul, M. Yusuf Usman, R.M. Syafruddin Zein, Tarmizi Mairu,
Sudarmo, and Sofyan Silahiddin. 1986. Morfologi dan sintaksis bahasa Melayu
Belitung. Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa.
Nothofer, Bernd. 1997. Dialek Melayu Bangka. Bangi: Penerbit Universiti
Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Pelras, Christian. 2002. “A few jottings on some aquatic populations of the
Nusantara Archipelago”. [Http://
pelras.pdf, accessed on 6-1-2005; Translated by S. Pernia and J. Durrell-
Khalife, “Notes sur quelques populations aquatiques de l’Archipel
nusantarien”, Archipel (1972) 3: 133-168.]
Phillips, Timothy C. In progress. Proto-Aslian; Towards an understanding of its
historical linguistic systems, principles and processes. PhD thesis, Universiti
Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Rafferty, Ellen. 1983. “Contrasts in the syntax of a Malay and an Indonesian
oral narrative”, in: James T. Collins (ed.), Studies in Malay dialects, part I,
pp. 1–36. Jakarta: Badan Penyelenggara Seri NUSA, Universitas Katolik
Indonesia Atma Jaya. [NUSA: Linguistic Studies of Indonesian and Other
Languages in Indonesia 16.]
Riedel, J. G. F. 1881. “De baning djoekoet singak en baning seran njeroepak
amang; Twee volksverhalen in het dialekt der Orang Lawoet of Orang
Sekah van Bĕlitoeng”, Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde
26: 264–273.
Robert, Chongkit Sripun. 2010. Changes in patterns of communication of the Urak
Lawoi. PhD thesis, University of Wisconsin.
Saengmani, Amon. 1979. “Phonology of the Urak Lawoi’ language; Adang
Island”. MA thesis, Mahidol University.
Schebesta, Paul. 1926. “Kubu und Jakudn (Jakun) als Protomalayen”
(Translated by M. Kummerow and Adela Baer), Mitteilungen der
Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien 56: 192–201.
Schot, J.G. 1884. “Het stroomgebied der Kateman; Bijdrage tot de kennis von
Oost Sumatra”, Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Vol. 29:
306 307
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
Seidlitz, Eric. 2005. “A study of Jakun Malay; Some aspects of its phonology”.
MA thesis, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Seidlitz, Eric. 2007. “Duano; a rst look at its phonology”, in: Chong Shin,
Karim Harun, and Yabit Alas (eds), Reections in Southeast Asian seas;
Essays in honour of professor James T. Collins, Vol. II, pp. 23–49. Pontianak:
STAIN Pontianak Press.
Skeat, Walter William and Charles Otto Blagden. 1906. Pagan races of the Malay
peninsula. London: Macmillan.
Skeat, Walter William and H.N. Ridley. 1900. “The Orang Laut of Singapore”,
Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 33-34: 247–250.
Smedal, Olaf. 1987. Lom-Indonesian-English and English-Lom wordlists
accompanied by four Lom texts. Jakarta: Badan Penyelenggara Seri NUSA,
Universitas Katolik Indonesia Atma Jaya. [NUSA: Linguistic Studies of
Indonesian and Other Languages in Indonesia 28-29.]
Smedal, Olaf. 1989. Order and difference; An ethnographic study of Orang Lom of
Bangka, West Indonesia. Oslo: Department of Social Anthropology. [Oslo
Occasional Papers in Social Anthropology 19.]
Smith, Sydney, Macvey Napier, and William Empson. 1814. “History and
languages of the Indian islands (review of Marsden’s grammar and
dictionary of the Malayan language)”, The Edinburgh Review; Or Critical
Journal 23(45): 151–189.
Sopher, David E. 1977. The sea nomads; A study based on the literature of the
maritime boat people of Southeast Asia. Singapore: National Museum. [Reprint
of rst edition with postscript.]
Steinhauer, Hein. 1988. “Malay in East Indonesia; The case of Macassarese
Malay”, in: Mohd. Thani Ahmad and Zaini Mohamed Zain (eds),
Rekonstruksi dan cabang-cabang bahasa Melayu induk, pp. 105–151. Kuala
Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. [Monogra Sejarah Bahasa Melayu.]
Steinhauer, Hein. 2008. “On the development of Urak Lawoi’ Malay”, Wacana,
Jurnal Ilmu Pengetahuan Budaya 10(1): 117–143.
Stokhof, W. A. L. (ed.). 1987. Holle Lists; Vocabularies in languages of Indonesia,
Vol. 10/1: Minangkabau and languages of Central Sumatra. Canberra:
Australian National University. [Pacic Linguistics D-74.]
Suwardi. 1993. “Bahasa Melayu suku asli di Riau; Satu tinjauan linguistik
historis komparatif”, Dewan Bahasa 37(2): 128–147.
Syamsiar, Sitti, M. R. Yunus, Mohd. Daud Kadir, and Rukmini. 1986. Struktur
bahasa Sokop. Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa.
Tadmor, Uri. 2002. “Language contact and the homeland of Malay”. Paper,
The Sixth International Symposium of Malay/Indonesian Linguistics
(ISMIL 6), Bintan Island, 3-5 August.
Tadmor, Uri. 2003. “Final /a/ mutation; A borrowed areal feature in Western
Austronesia”, in: John Lynch (ed.), Issues in Austronesian historical
phonology, pp. 15–35. Canberra: Australian National University. [Pacic
Linguistics 550.]
Thurgood, Graham. 1999. From ancient Cham to modern dialects: two thousand
years of language contact and change; With an appendix of Chamic reconstructions
306 307
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
and loanwords. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. [Oceanic Linguistics
Special Publications 28.]
Umar, Said Mahmud, T. Nontel, Pang Cik, and Burhan Yunus. 1991. Struktur
bahasa Akit. Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa.
Usman, Burhanuddin Ch., Yusmaniar Noor, Apul Simbolon, and Setiana
Simorangkir. 1983. Struktur bahasa Orang Laut. Jakarta: Pusat Bahasa.
Wilkinson, R. J. 1959. A Malay–English dictionary (Romanised). London:
Yusof, Mohd. Sharifudin. 2006. Obsolesensi dan kenazakan bahasa Orang Melayu
Proto; Kajian sosiologi bahasa terhadap dialek Duano dan dialek Kanaq di Johor.
PhD thesis, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
308 309
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
BAN English Bintan OLaut
1 hand taŋan
2 left kii
3 right kanan
4leg / foot kaki
5 walk (v.) bɘ-jɤlɤn
6road/path jɤlɤn
7 come dɤtaŋ
8 turn (left or
right) beloʔ
9swim (v.) bɘnaŋ
10 dirty kɔtɔh
11 dust abuʔ
12 skin kulɪt
13 back (body
part) pʊŋgʊŋ
14 belly pɘ͡ɰot
15 bone tulaŋ
16 intestines ʊsoʔ
17 liver ati
18 breast susu
19 shoulder bɤu
20 know
21 think bɘ-pike
22 fear (v.) takot
23 blood dɤɤh
24 head kɘpalɯ
25 neck lee
26 hair (of the
head) ambʊt
27 nose idoŋ
BAN English Bintan OLaut
28 breathe bɘ-napas
29 sniff, smell ciʊm
30 mouth mulot
31 tooth gigi
32 tongue lidɤh
33 laugh (v.) tawɯ
34 cry (v.) naŋes
35 vomit (v.) mutah
36 spit (v.) ludɤh
37 eat (v.) makan
38 chew (v.) pɘpaʔ
39 cook (v.) masaʔ
40 drink (v.) minʊm
41 bite (v.) gigit
42 suck (v.) isap
43 ear tɘliŋɯ
44 hear (v.) dɘŋah
45 eye matɯ
46 see (v.) teŋoʔ
47 yawn (v.) saŋap
48 sleep (v.) tedoh
49 lie down (to
sleep) bɤ
50 dream (v.) mimpi
51 sit (v.) dudoʔ
52 stand (v.) bɘdii
53 person/
54 man/male jɤntɤn
Appendix: Bintan Orang Laut wordlist
This wordlist follows the format of the Basic Austronesian (BAN) wordlist
(Blust 1981) with a few additional items at the bottom. Speaker metadata are
also provided at the bottom of the list.
308 309
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
BAN English Bintan OLaut
55 woman/
female bətinɯ
56 child anaʔ
57 husband laki
58 wife bini
59 mother m̩aʔ
60 father uaʔ
61 house umah
62 roof/thatch atap
63 name namɯ
64 say (v.) bɘ-katɯ
65 rope tali
66 tie up,
67 sew
(clothing) jɤet/ɲɤet
68 needle jɤom
69 hunt (for
70 shoot (as
with a gun) t/nembaʔ
71 stab, pierce
72 hit (with
stick, club)
73 steal cui
74 kill bunoh
75 die, be dead mati
76 live, be alive idup
77 scratch (an
itch) ŋgɤu/gɤu
78 cut, hack
(wood) kɘ͡ɰat
79 stick (wood) kayu
80 split (v. tr.) bɘlɤh/mɘlɤh
81 sharp tajɤm
82 dull, blunt tompol
BAN English Bintan OLaut
83 work (in
84 plant (v.) nanam
85 choose (v.) pileh/mileh
86 grow (v.
87 swell (as an
abscess) bɘŋkaʔ
88 squeeze (as
juice from a
89 hold (s.t., on
to s.t.) pɘgaŋ
90 dig (v.) gɤli/ŋɤli
91 buy (v.) bɘli/mɘli
92 open,
uncover (v.) bukaʔ
93 pound, beat
(as rice or
94 throw (as a
95 fall (as a
fruit) jɤtoh
96 dog koyoʔ
97 bird buoŋ
98 egg tɘloh
99 feather bulu
100 wing sayap
101 y (v.) tɘbaŋ
102 rat tikus
103 meat/esh dɤgiŋ
104 fat/grease lɘmaʔ
105 tail koteʔ, eko
106 snake ulah
107 worm
310 311
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
BAN English Bintan OLaut
108 louse (head) kutu
109 mosquito ŋ̩et
110 spider lɤbalɤbah
111 sh ikan
112 rotten
(of food,
113 branch dɤɤn
114 leaf
115 root akah
116 ower buŋɯ
117 fruit buɤh
118 grass umput
119 earth/soil tanah
120 stone bɤtɯ
121 sand paseh
122 water (fresh
123 ow (v.) mɘ-leleh
124 sea laot
125 salt gɤɤm
126 lake kolam payɯ
127 woods/
128 sky laŋet
129 moon bulɤdn
130 star bintaŋ
131 cloud (white
cloud; not a
132 fog kabut
133 rain ujɤn
134 thunder guoh
135 lightning kilat
136 wind aŋen
137 blow (v.) tiup
BAN English Bintan OLaut
138 warm/hot
139 cold sɘjuʔ
140 dry kɘ͡ɰ
141 wet (cloth) bɤsɤh
142 heavy bɘ͡ɰɤt
143 re api
144 burn (v. tr.) bɤkah
145 smoke (of a
146 ash abu
147 black itam
148 white puteh
149 red meah
150 yellow kuniŋ
151 green ijow
152 small kɘciʔ
153 big bɘsah
154 short pendeʔ
155 long (of
objects) paɲcaŋ
156 thin (of
157 thick (of
objects) tɘbɤl
158 narrow sɘmpit
159 wide lebah
160 painful, sick sakit
161 shy,
162 old (of
people) tuɯ
163 new bɤu
164 good bɤeʔ
165 bad, evil jɤhɤt
166 correct, true bɘnah
310 311
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
BAN English Bintan OLaut
167 night malam
168 day a͡ɰi
169 year taun
170 when
(question) belɤʔ
171 hide (v.
intr.) sɘmuɲi
172 climb
(ladder) naeʔ
173 at dɘkɤt
174 in, inside dɤlɤm
175 above atas
176 below bɤwɤh
177 this ekɤʔ
178 that etoʔ
179 near dɘkɤt
180 far jɤuh
181 where
(question) mɤnɯ
182 I aku
183 you (sing.) dikəw, mikɯ
184 he/she diɤʔ
BAN English Bintan OLaut
185 we (excl.) kameʔ
185 we (incl.) kitɤʔ
186 you (plural) dikəw sɘmuɯ
187 they mikɤʔ, uaŋ
188 what
(question) apɤʔ
189 who
(question) sapɤʔ
190 other lain
191 all sɘmuɯ
192 and dɘŋan
193 if kalaw
194 how
(question) bɤgɤymɤnɯ
195 no, not tidɤʔ
196 count (v.) etoŋ
197 one satu
198 two duɯ
199 three tigɯ
200 four m̩pat
Additional wordlist
English Bintan OLaut
1ve limɯ
2six n̩am
3 seven tujoh
4 eight lɤpɤn
5 nine sɘmilɤn
6 ten sɘpuloh
7 eleven sɘbɘlɤs
8 hundred saːtos
9thousand sibu
English Bintan OLaut
10 body bɔdɤn
11 nger jɤ͡ɰi
12 friend kawan
13 chicken ayam
14 tree pokoʔ
15 coconut
16 cassava ubi
17 machete pa͡ɰ
18 pillow kopeʔ, bɤntɤl
312 PB
Wacana Vol. 14 No. 2 (October 2012) KARL ANDERBECK, The Malayic-speaking Orang Laut
English Bintan OLaut
19 strong kuat
20 many baɲaʔ
21 here kian ‘to here’
22 there kiun ‘to there’
23 angry maɰah
24 run la͡ɰi
English Bintan OLaut
25 let’s kian
26 don’t usaʔ
27 there isn’t musɤʔ
28 sh line kodik
29 loincloth kancut
Village Berakit Panglung Ujung
Sub-District Teluk Sebung
District Bintan
Province/State Kepulauan Riau
Country Indonesia
Informant Age 58
Sex male
Elicited By Karl Anderbeck
Date 22 January 2010
Notes: Informant grew up on the sea (both parents Orang Laut), and started
living on land at age 17. No signicant schooling. Also speaks Malay and
... A 345-item word list was collected from the consultants. These included 210 words taken from the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database (ABVD) (Greenhill, Blust & Gray, 2008), Anderbeck's (2012) additional words from Bintan Orang Laut, Pelras (1972), Blissett and Elzinga (2015), Juma'at (2017, p. 149), and Yusop (2011). I also added 17 words of my own to these. ...
... From here onwards, words collected from the word list are discussed, concerning whether they share Anderbeck's (2012) observed Sea Tribe innovations, and the non-Malay (but possibly Malayic) words present in the word list. All transcriptions in this chapter are written in IPA, unless stated otherwise. ...
... • The most common sound change is the dropping of intervocalic /r/, /l/, /k/ and /h/, for example Anderbeck (2012), in his analysis of several Orang Laut languages, observed very few "characteristically Sumatran Malay" lexical items. This is true for the word list collected, which only has five words used in Sumatran Malay, and the first 3 are mentioned by Anderbeck (2012, p. 292). ...
Full-text available
This paper presents an analysis on some aspects of Seletar, the language of the Orang Seletar, namely the phonology, lexicon and polysemy. The Orang Seletar are one of Singapore’s indigenous sea peoples (Orang Laut) and one of the many groups of Orang Asli (‘indigenous people’) of Malaysia. Seletar is considered a dialect of Malay. Although some research has been done on the Orang Seletar, they often lack linguistic documentation and detailed analysis. Some interesting observations of Seletar were made in this study, for example neutralization of /p/ and /m/ in p-initial verbal roots, sesquisyllabic structure, various vowel-sequences, frequent contractions of Standard Malay lexical items, and polysemy unseen in Standard Malay. Seletar has some non-Malay lexical items which might indicate borrowings from Aslian and Borneo languages. However, many words seem uniquely Seletar. The paper concludes with a transcribed word list of 345 items based on the recordings of two speakers. Much further research is needed to analyse Seletar in detail. More than anything, this paper serves as an introduction to Seletar, which many overlooked as they deemed it ‘very similar to Malay’. The paper hopes to be a starting point to more detailed studies regarding the Orang Seletar, linguistic or otherwise.
... The variety spoken by the descendants of the Orang Kallang is said to be similar to the speech of the Orang Seletar (oral recount by Malay resident, 1985) [20]. The characteristic features of the Orang Laut varieties can be found in [21] (p. 297). ...
... Tan concludes that the Orang Kallang and Orang Seletar are both Orang Laut/Sea Tribe Malay varieties and most probably shared features common to various Orang Laut/Sea Tribes of Riau (e.g., numerous glottal stops closing, kian/kiun/kiyoh triplet, see [21]). Overall, she believes that archival accounts point to them being very similar, but other than the words described above, concrete data on the topic is severely lacking. ...
Full-text available
Brenda Ong Man Qing, and Perono Cacciafoco, Francesco. 2022. Singapore’s Forgotten Stories: The Orang Kallang Tribe of Kallang River, Humans, 2, 3: 138-147 - This article studies and provides a narrative review of the history of the native Orang Kallang people residing on Singapore’s Kallang River before Singapore’s modernization. The first section delves into the Orang Laut and how a group of them moved to the Kallang River to form the independent tribe of the Orang Kallang. This is followed by the historical significance of the Kallang River and its role in trade and maritime commerce in early Singapore. Subsequently, the second section investigates the Orang Kallang’s origins, livelihood, language, and reasons for their eventual decline. As the Orang Kallang tribe split after the arrival of the British in 1819, the group that settled in Pulai River, Johor, was recorded to have dwindled staggeringly in population due to a smallpox epidemic. The third section will focus on the impact of smallpox on the early aboriginal populations of Singapore (and the overarching region of Malaya), failed vaccination attempts, and how the Orang Kallang was likely to have been impacted. The last section will sum up the themes discussed in the paper. - Keywords: Singapore history; Kallang River; Orang Kallang; smallpox; epidemiology DOI:
... The variety spoken by the descendants of the Orang Kallang is said to be similar to the speech of the Orang Seletar (oral recount by Malay resident, 1985) [20]. The characteristic features of the Orang Laut varieties can be found in [21] (p. 297). ...
... Tan concludes that the Orang Kallang and Orang Seletar are both Orang Laut/Sea Tribe Malay varieties and most probably shared features common to various Orang Laut/Sea Tribes of Riau (e.g., numerous glottal stops closing, kian/kiun/kiyoh triplet, see [21]). Overall, she believes that archival accounts point to them being very similar, but other than the words described above, concrete data on the topic is severely lacking. ...
Full-text available
This article studies and provides a narrative review of the history of the native Orang Kallang people residing on Singapore’s Kallang River before Singapore’s modernization. The first section delves into the Orang Laut and how a group of them moved to the Kallang River to form the independent tribe of the Orang Kallang. This is followed by the historical significance of the Kallang River and its role in trade and maritime commerce in early Singapore. Subsequently, the second section investigates the Orang Kallang’s origins, livelihood, language, and reasons for their eventual decline. As the Orang Kallang tribe split after the arrival of the British in 1819, the group that settled in Pulai River, Johor, was recorded to have dwindled staggeringly in population due to a smallpox epidemic. The third section will focus on the impact of smallpox on the early aboriginal populations of Singapore (and the overarching region of Malaya), failed vaccination attempts, and how the Orang Kallang was likely to have been impacted. The last section will sum up the themes discussed in the paper.
... Even though they are designated as the same language, the local languages of Indonesian spoken in different regions may differ (have lexical differences) from one another (Fauzi and Puspitorini, 2018). For instance, Anderbeck (2012) in table 2 shown that Jambi Malay dialects vary between villages in the province of Jambi. Similar to Javanese in the Lamongan exhibits up to 13 percent lexical diversity between districts shows in table 3 . ...
... The Jambi Malay language has lexical variety among the province's several communities(Anderbeck, 2012) ...
Full-text available
Twitter contains an abundance of linguistic data from the real world. We examine Twitter for user-generated content in low-resource languages such as local Indonesian. For NLP to work in Indonesian, it must consider local dialects, geographic context, and regional culture influence Indonesian languages. This paper identifies the problems we faced when constructing a Local Indonesian NLP dataset. Furthermore, we are developing a framework for creating, collecting, and classifying Local Indonesian datasets for NLP. Using twitter's geolocation tool for automatic annotating.
... Clc.ntra!ASlian Source: Benjamin (2012a: p. 144) In contrast to the large number of Austroasiatic languages (Figure 4), there are (as already mentioned) merely two Austronesian languages in the Peninsula: Malay and Duano. [Anderbeck (2012) for an up-to-date account of the minority Austronesian speech-varieties]. This means that the Aslian languages have been present much longer than Malay, and that they probably began to differentiate from their presumed ancestor within the Peninsula, possibly in what is now its Southern Thai portion (Bulbeck, 2014(Bulbeck, , 2015Burenhult, Kruspe & Dunn, 2011). ...
... They were considered as part of Bajau people from the perspective of the local people but historically they were different. Anderbeck [1] in his writing about The Malayic Speaking Orang Laut. He found that Duano ethnic does not belong to Bajau ethnic because there are some significant differences between those ethnics. ...
... Mungkin ini satu pujian yang terlalu besar ingin diberikan, namun dari satu sudut, Rohani dan Hasnoor berjaya mendokumentasikan dan juga membezakan aspek fonologi antara bahasa Jakun, Temuan, Duano, Seletar dan Kanaq. Gabungan kajian Rohani dan Hasnoor [15] dan Anderbeck [23] boleh disimpulkan (dari pandangan kasar) di mana bahasa Jakun dengan bahasa suku Laut seperti bahasa Urai Lawoi' boleh diklasifikasikan dalam cabang yang sama. Dalam penelitian ke atas bahasa Austroasia, kajian yang boleh dikemukakan di sini adalah dari kajian Dentan [24] yang meniti bahasa masyarakat Semai. ...
Conference Paper
Abstrak. Penelaahan varian Hulu dan Hilir Pahang telah dilaksanakan bermula dari era imperialisme British ke Tanah Melayu yakni dari tahun 1912 sehingga ke zaman abad ke-21. Kajian ini cuba untuk melihat perkembangan kajian di kawasan hulu dan hilir Sungai Pahang yang mana dikatakan terdapat perbezaan yang sangat tumpat dengan kepelbagaian ciri kelainan penyebutannya, terutama di segmen akhir kata. Beberapa kajian lalu telah menggarap kemas ciri fonologi di hulu dan hilir Sungai Pahang namun di kawasan tengah lembangan Sungai Pahang, khususnya Jerantut, kawasan ini masih belum didokumentasikan. Pada era ke 19 dan 20, kita telah dihidangkan dengan berbagai bentuk kajian dialek, namun pada alaf baru ini menunjukkan penurunan sumbangan kajian dalam bidang dialektologi khususnya di negeri Pahang. Persoalan tentang ciri fonologi dan hubungan di antara varian Jerantut dengan MP boleh diibaratkan teratai layu di tasik madu yang tidak menjadi perhatian mana-mana pihak, sendu tidak bermaya. Alangkah baiknya sekiranya kalam kajian di Sungai Pahang ini boleh diakhiri dengan penelitian di Jerantut dengan pemanfaatan ilmu linguistik sejarawi.
... One prehistorian, (Renfrew, 1990) Thai (Anderbeck, 2012). ...
Full-text available
This paper discusses the Malay Minorities of the Malay Minorities in the Tenasserim Coast. And Tanintharyi Division is an administrative region of Myanmar at present. When we look closely at some of the interesting historical facts, we see that this region is “Tanao Si” in Thai, or Tanah Sari in Malay. This region belonged to Tanah Melayu, or Malay Peninsula, which was part of the Sultanate of Kedah. It was occupied first by the Ayutthaya Kingdom and later by Burma. Moken people of the Austronesian-speaking tribes who live on the coast and on the islands of the Andaman Sea up through the Mergui Archipelago of Myanmar have rationally attracted the attention of researchers. The group includes the Mokens themselves, the Moklen (Moklem), the Orang Sireh (Betel-leaf people) and the Orang Lanta. The Orang Lanta are a hybridized group formed when the people of Malay settled in the Lanta Islands, where the proto-Malay Orang Sireh had lived. The Burmese call the Mokens "selung," "salone," or "chalome." For this study, secondary data on the relevant history was collected and two complementary approaches were used as the research methodology to identify, analyze, and understand different patterns of knowledge-sharing within complex social systems. Finally, the paper discusses the significance impact of human migration in Southeast Asia.
The mangroves of the Sundaic biogeography region in Southeast Asia are ecologically diverse and highly productive. The location of mangroves close to densely populated coastlines, on the other hand, puts them in a perilous situation as socio-economic growth has intensified in the past decades. Thus, research to support conservation of remnant mangroves is urgently required. Critical information is, however, spread across numerous disciplines. Here, we use a range of sources to gain multidisciplinary inputs from as much literature as possible to summarize emerging trends for driving future research to support conservation. This narrative review begins by pointing out the unique values of the biophysical and ecosystem services of Sundaic mangroves. Subsequently, the human beneficiaries of the mangroves are explored, including indigenous sea-people who are rarely mentioned in the literature. To put mangrove degradation and loss into context, past and emerging anthropogenic pressures are evaluated to identify the threats. Key findings include the presence of persistent threats from the agriculture and aquaculture sectors. These are to be expected, but alarmingly, coal-fired power plants and inland hydrological shifts induced by dams also pose major concerns. Although community-based management is often hailed as part of the solution, studies argue that the approach should be attempted cautiously. The latest body of knowledge revealed herein is vital to inform coastal environment management and further drives the direction of research in the Sundaic and other systems globally in which similar socio-economic pressures are experienced.
Full-text available
Singapore’s location at the narrowest point between the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific means that it must have been influenced over the millennia not just by Malay or Malayic, but also by languages belonging to more distantly related Austronesian sub-groups. Following a brief history of the Austronesian language family, the chapter identifies some of the particular languages from the Malayo-Polynesian branch that might have been spoken in Singapore and nearby parts of Malaysia and Indonesia in earlier times. Other than Malay, these have left surprisingly little trace. This is followed by an outline history of Malay itself, emphasising the dialectal non-‘standard’ complexities that have arisen from its dual role over the past two millennia as simultaneously a regional first-language and a more widely diffused trade-linked second-language. Discussion then turns to the Austronesian languages known to have been spoken in Singapore as a result of migration in the past two centuries. The local history of these languages (both Malayic and non-Malayic) is outlined, with attention to the processes by which they have recently ceased to be spoken, even within families. Selected biographical examples show that their disappearance is primarily due to pressure from Malay and (latterly) English, despite some recent revivalist efforts.
While several recent studies deal with the impact of colonial rule and Malaysia's spectacular economic transition, this book tracks developments from early times and identifies continuities as well as change.
Land reform has been an indisputable part of Indonesian revolution. The consequent execution of development programmes for nation-building have provoked intense hostility over territorial rights. Global market forces in Indonesia have seen increasing flows of transnational investments, technology and resources that have resulted in great demand on sea and land spaces. In this momentum of change, several aspects of rural culture including indigenous populations, like the Orang Suku Laut (people of the sea) of Riau have been deemed by the state architects of development programmes to hinder progress. For generations, the sea and coastal places have been the life and living spaces of the Orang Suku Laut and they claim ownership to these territories based upon customary laws. The developmental pressure thus generated has led to intense struggles over territorial rights. It has also raised issues concerning the social assimilation of indigenous peoples as citizens, religious conversion and cultural identity. Cynthia Chou discusses how Indonesian nation-building development programmes have generated intense struggles over issues pertaining to territorial rights, social assimilation of indigenous peoples as citizens, religious conversion and cultural identity This book is a stimulating read for those interested in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Development Studies and Southeast Asian Studies.
The Orang Suku Laut consider themselves indigenous Malays. Yet their interaction with others who call themselves Malays is characterised on both sides by fear of harmful magic and witchcraft. The nomadic Orang Suku Laut believe that the Qur'an contains elements of black magic, while the settled Malays consider the nomads dangerous, dirty and backward. At the centre of this study, based on first-hand anthropological data, is the symbolism of money and the powerful influence it has on social relationships within the Riau archipelago. The first major publication on these maritime nomadic communities, the book also adds fresh perspectives on anthropological debates on exchange systems, tribality and hierarchy. It also characterises the different ways of being Malay in the region and challenges the prevailing tendency to equate Malay identity with the Islamic faith.
The Orang Kanaq are the Orang Asli group that can only be found in Kota Tinggi, Johor. Originally from Sumatra, the group had a long history as vassals for Johor rulers before losing their influence due to economic and political changes that have occurred in the Riau-Lingga archipelago since the 18th century. This paper examines the early history of the Orang Kanaq, the factors that led to their decline prior to the arrival of European powers, and their migration to Kota Tinggi. Since the end of the 19th century, patron-client ties in modernising Johor have become less important; this has pushed the Orang Kanaq to the margins of society. Forced resettlements during the Emergency (1948-60) and efforts to "modernise" them economically and socially have proven to be challenging tasks for both the government and the Kanaq themselves.