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In Sabah, as in the rest of Malaysia, many indigenous languages are threatened by language shift to Sabah Malay. The present study examines to what extent Bookan, an Austronesian language spoken in Keningau district, in the southwestern part of Sabah state, is affected by these developments.
The main research objective was to examine Bookan language vitality by exploring language fluency and acquisition patterns, language use patterns, and language attitudes pertaining to Bookan and Sabah Malay. A secondary research objective was to determine the geographical extent of the language area and the different languages spoken throughout the area.
The survey findings suggest that the Bookan communities are in the process of shifting from Bookan to Sabah Malay with the child-bearing generation still being able to use the language among themselves, while the children acquire Sabah Malay as their first language. Hence, in terms of the EGIDS levels, the language vitality status of the language can be defined as Level 7 “Shifting.”