Linguistic Comparison of Semai Dialects

Statement of Responsibility:
Phillips, Timothy C.

The Semai language of peninsular Malaysia is rich in diversity: each Semai village speaks its own variety. This report documents the various Semai dialects and explores the relationships between them, with regard to choice of words as well as the phonological changes that affect the pronunciation of each. Systematic analysis shows the dialects to be different enough from each other that it is unlikely that any one dialect can be adequately understood by all speakers. Thus, in the strictest sense of the terms, it may be argued that the Semai varieties are a cluster of closely related “languages” rather than “dialects.” Following local convention, however, the term “dialect” is maintained in this paper. This report lays the foundation for establishing which dialect or dialects could be used to provide an optimal means of communication across all the Semai dialects.

111 pages
Language surveys
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