By John Beames
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Extra resources for A Comparative Grammar of Modern Aryan Languages of India
As the official national language, Malay is supposed to serving the following two main policy functions which were to act as: (1) (2) an emblem of the Malay people who are considered constitutionally as the indigenous people of Malaysia; and, a bearer of traditional values, thus securing the survival of Malay primordialism. The importance of Malay in Malaysian modernity cannot be discounted not just because it continues to be the official national language; it is also the working language of many Malays and non-Malays alike within Malaysia and outside its borders.
Such a legal device was an explicit recognition of the sovereign Malay status over non-Malays, and by the end of the British colonial period, became the political legitimation of Malay language and culture over the indigenous and other cultures of the peninsula. Therefore, without the advent of the British colonial period, Malay might not have ever attained its predominance in modernity. Additionally, the Treaty politically marginalized the Orang Asli who were the first people to settle in the archipelago and although the Merdeka Constitution of 1957 guarantees the rights of non-Malay bumiputera or 'indigenous people', the role of these marginalized bumiputera in politics and economics is limited.
And of course, English is not officially considered the native language of the countries of Southeast Asia. It is the language of the outsiders, the Westerners, and very often, the former colonizers. This argument is, of course, complicated by the existence of many different nativized varieties of English. We will address the issues 24 RAPPA AND WEE: LANGUAGE POLICYAND MODERNITY INSOUTHEASTASIA posed by the presence of these nativized varieties in the chapters to come. For now, we simply note that it is not possible to completely ignore the language so that the management of English therefore already poses a delicate balancing act in itself.
A Comparative Grammar of Modern Aryan Languages of India by John Beames