The Language Maintenance and Identities of The Thai-Melayu Ethnic Group in Jaleh Village, Yarang District, Pattani Province, Thailand

Authors: Brohanah Tayeh, Kamila Kaping, Nadeehah Samae, Varavejbhisis Yossiri (English Program, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Yala Rajabhat University, Thailand)
Speaker: Brohanah Tayeh
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


At the Thai-Malaysian border, a majority of the population comprises the Thai-Melayu ethnic group, as speakers of the Pattani-Malay dialect. Here, heritage language maintenance presents a salient factor. The ethnicity resides on both sides of the border.

This study aims to investigate the heritage language maintenance and identities of the Thai-Melayu ethnic group in the Jaleh Village, Yarang District, Pattani Province, Thailand, and to examine their attitudes towards the language use in their community. The sample set comprised 20 local respondents who were born and raised in the village. A questionnaire addressing the effects of the heritage language maintenance of the Thai-Melayu was employed as a tool of data collection. A descriptive analysis method was used for the data analysis.

The results of the study revealed ideological underpinnings of the ethnic group with regards to language, as well as demographic results that inform population and cultural studies. These include that the Pattani-Malay dialect constitutes a major language, where the Thai language in comparison has a minor usage in the community. The Pattani-Malay dialect is used in the family domain, with extended families, or with neighbors, and in ritualistic or religion domains. In contrast, Thai is used with strangers, in government and official domains, in the school domain, and in the public health domain. Moreover, the results support that the dialect has not as yet become endangered, evidenced by that the sampled populations prefer the Pattani-Malay dialect as the main language for daily life, and for passing on their ethnic language to younger generations, a process labeled as ‘accidental maintenance.’

Keywords: Heritage Language Maintenance, Identities, Pattani-Malay Dialect, Ethnic Group