Attitudes Towards Standard Indigenous Language: Findings From Focus-Group-Discussions With Kadazandusun Communities


  • Jeannet Stephen, Rosazman Hussin, Rosy Talin, Henry Bating, Andreas Totu, Patricia Lajumin, Nor Arifah Mohd Nor, Christina Andin


standard language, Kadazandusun, language attitudes, language ideology, language planning


This study explored the attitudes of Indigenous language speakers towards the standard variety of Indigenous language that is taught in the local education system. The study categorizes the attitudes held amongst the Kadazandusun community comprising parents and community leaders from four districts in Sabah that are known to have a significant number of Kadazandusun population. Data in this article came from the Focus Group Discussion (FGD) sessions held during fieldwork in these four districts. The questions from the FGD stemmed from these two overarching research questions: (1) What is your view on the teaching of the standard Kadazandusun language in the school; and (2) Do you feel your own dialect/language should also be taught in the school? Responses from the communities can be categorized into these themes: (1) status and future of the standard, (2) aspirations for their dialect/language, and the more interesting part was (3) community’s suggestions for making the standard more user-friendly. These themes are discussed in the context of the teaching of the standard Kadazandusun language. This study contributes to the understanding of the complexities involved in the process of indigenous language standardization. Without diminishing the concerns that have been voiced by the communities, given that the majority of the indigenous languages of Sabah are hovering around EGIDS 6b (threatened), the authors propose for communities to approach differences they see in the standard with a more positive angle and in unison aim towards the larger goal of creating new speakers of indigenous languages. In addition, the authors find it crucial that curriculum policy makers continue the inclusive decision-making in the preparation of curriculum and materials for the standard dialect while creating avenues for the other dialects to access teaching and learning resources.