Language vitality can be defined as the power of a language to live or grow as a means of communication among members of the group who speak it. This paper evaluates the vitality of the Orang Asli languages in Gerik, Perak, Malaysia, based on the Major Evaluative Factors of Language Vitality outlined by the UNESCO Ad Hoc Expert Group on Endangered Languages in March 2003. The factors identified are: (1) intergenerational language transmission; (2) absolute number of speakers; (3) proportion of speakers within the total population; (4) trends in existing language domains; (5) response to new domains and media; (6) materials for language education and literacy; (7) governmental and institutional attitudes and policies; (8) community members’ attitudes toward their own language; and (9) amount and quality of documentation. The Orang Asli languages involved in this study are Temiar, Jahai, Kintaq, Kensiu, and Lanoh. Eighty-two questionnaires were administered, while observations and interviews were conducted with respondents from these communities. The results show that the Temiar language has higher vitality than any of the other languages. A number of reasons may be suggested to explain this, among them being the higher population of Temiar compared with other communities in the area. The lifestyle of the Temiar may be another reason, as is the function of Temiar as the lingua franca among the Orang Asli in the area.


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pp. 492-506
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