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The Challenge of Diversity: Ethnic Language Retention and the Shaping Of the Malay Muslim Identity in the Three Southern Border Provinces of Thailand

Proceeding: 9th International Academic Conference (IAC)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 939-943

Keywords : Heritage Language; Ethnic Identity; Culture; Malay Muslims.;

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Heritage language is a complex issue that affects Malay Muslims who live in bilingual environment. They may look different, speak a different language, practice different religions, and follow different cultural rituals from the larger Thai society. What is it like to be who they are? How does being linguistically different influence their sense of ethnic identity? it is important to pay attention to the extent mother tongue can play an important role in constructing the scene of ethnic identity among the Malay Muslims of southern Thailand whose language and culture are different from those of the monolingual Thai-speaking population. It is important to better understand how Malay Muslims perceive themselves and come to terms with their identity while living in a society that dichotomizes majority versus minority and Thai-speakers versus non-Thai speakers. Do they resolve conflicting identities resulting from living in two different cultures? Or do they identify themselves with one culture over the other? Therefore, this paper is an attempt to discuss how the Malay language was used as a symbol to preserve and sustain the Malay identity among the Malay Muslims of southern Thailand. It is important to examine the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of Malay Muslims about their native language and to observe whether Malay and Thai have different functions and context status from each other in their lives. This study serves the need for studies that analyze language as an essential component of nationalism, and not merely as a means of communication.

Last modified: 2015-03-06 23:59:09