Eye on Asia

Languages in Brunei

This is a selection of resources on languages in Brunei available from the NLB catalogue or the Internet and is not meant to be an exhaustive list. If you know of or come across more useful resources, please drop us a note so we can share them with our readers.

NLB print and digital resources

Bahasa dalam and Malay speech etiquette in Brunei Darussalam

This is an interesting study on “Bahasa Dalam” or “court language” in Brunei. Linguistic elements in “Bahasa Dalam” reflects the social and occupational status of its speakers. Particularly eye-opening is the section on common terms in commoners’ Malay but  possessing special and different meanings in “Bahasa Dalam”. Even seasoned Malay speakers may have inadvertently commit social faux pas if they do not possess knowledge of the court language in Brunei.

All rights reserved, Berakas, Brunei: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Brunei, 2009.

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Brunei English: A new variety in a multilingual society

English is widely spoken in Brunei thanks to the country’s bilingual education policy. Brunei English or English spoken in Brunei varies among its population depending on educational backgrounds and other factors such as age, gender, profession and ethnicity.  The author highlights that English is not so widely adopted as a lingua franca in Brunei but its extensive use as a medium of instruction in schools would probably see Brunei English becoming more independent of the norms found in British English.

All rights reserved, Dordrecht, New York: Springer, 2013.

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The use and status of language in Brunei Darussalam: A kingdom of unexpected linguistic diversity

Language and linguistic diversity in Brunei are highlighted in this title. Varieties of Malay, Chinese dialects, English and indigenous languages including Kadayan, Tutong, Dusun, Murut and Iban spoken in Brunei illustrate the country’s rich cultural heritage and connectedness to regional and international environments.

All rights reserved, Singapore: Springer, 2016.

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Bilingual education in Brunei: The evolution of the Brunei approach to bilingual education and the role of CfBT in promoting educational change

Report on the role of Centre for British Teachers (“CfBT”) Education Trust in supporting the teaching of English in Brunei since 1984. Recommendations and ideas for further development are also presented.

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