The Use Of Language By Myself And My Family

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. My Family
  3. Language Use by my Family
  4. My Attitudes towards Language Use
  5. Conclusion
  6. References


Human achieves language by being in a culture, it is passed down to generation and the next. This is what Yule (2010.p.14) described as cultural transmission. Humans do not inherit language they achieve them which means that language is not transferred through genes of the parents it is obtained by being with other speakers. Furthermore, Yule states that a human child is not a fully articulate language-user, the human child only starts being an active language-user during what Yule (2010.p.165) described as the critical period. In this period, this is when a child begins to build language acquisition at such a young age which last until puberty, after that the child will be a full language user.

Although, there are other basic requirements for a child to highly developed the general language capacity. An infant makes “cooing” and “babbling” sounds during their first year, but a deaf infant stops after about six months. (Yule,2010.p.171). In a case discovered by Moskowitz (1991) 'deaf parents who gave their normal-hearing son ample exposure to television and radio programs, the boy did not acquire an ability to speak or understand English. What he did learn very effectively, by the age of three, was the use of American Sign Language, that is, the language he used to interact with his parents.' Therefore, it seems that crucial preconditions such as sending and receiving sound signals in a language are openings to interact with others via language. (as cited in Yule,2010.p.171).

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There are a lot of languages spoken and used in Brunei (Martin & Poedjosedarmo, 1996, as cited in Deterding & Salbrina, 2013, p.5). Although, the common language use in Brunei is Brunei Malay, the variety of Malay in its pronunciation, lexis, and syntax (Clynes,2001, as cited in Deterding & Salbrina, 2013, p.5) Despite having seven subgroups of indigenous people in Brunei each with a diverse set of language, which are Brunei Malay, Kedayan, Dusun, Bisaya, Tutong, Belait and Murut as argued by Asmah (1983). (as cited in Azam, McLellan & Deterding, 2016, p.11)

The majority of the Bruneian people still spoke Brunei Malay, which is the official language of the country and the lingua franca of Malaysia. (Clynes & Deterding, 2011, as cited in Azam, et al., 2016, p.11).

My Family

My family is consists of five people my father, my mother, me and two of my younger sisters. We live in Kampung Ayer (water village), Brunei Darussalam. My father’s name is Haji Ahmad he is Bruneian and he speaks Brunei Malay, Standard Malay, and English but his origin language is in Brunei Malay. As mentioned by Clynes (2014) Brunei Malay is spoken by those who generally lived in Kampung Ayer, which is in the heart of the capital of Brunei. My mother’s name is Nur Aisyah she is Indonesian and she speaks Brunei Malay, Standard Malay, Bugis (Buginese language) and Indonesian but her origin language is Indonesian. Two of my younger siblings Erin (fourteen) and Rina (ten) and I speak Brunei Malay, Standard Malay, Indonesian and English but our origin language is Brunei Malay.

My family and I live near my grandmother’s house in Kampung Ayer (water village). My father is raised in Kampung Ayer. While my mother is born and raised in Kalimantan Balikpapan, Indonesia. She married my father and moved to Brunei and have been living in Brunei for 20 years.

Language Use by my Family

My family and I speak Brunei Malay. We send text messages and have a conversation in Brunei Malay. Since it is the Language that is being used by most of the people in Brunei.

Although, My father and mother would sometimes switch Brunei Malay to Standard Malay and English whenever they are talking to their colleagues or in government offices such as the bank. But my mother would switch between Brunei Malay and Standard Malay only since she does not speak any English. This is highlighted by Ferguson (1959) in his study of the concept diglossia where Standard Malay is the high variety because it is being used in formal settings such as government offices, radio stations and even in newspapers. while Brunei Malay is the low variety, as it is often used by Bruneians in the home, family, and friends. ( as cited in Azam, McLellan and Deterding, 2016, p.12) Moreover, Blom and Gumprez (1972) also argued that there is a wide range of code-switching in government offices. ( as cited in Conrad and Ozog, 1996, p.164 )

However, My mother will only speak Indonesian when she is with her Indonesian friends and speak both Indonesian and Bugis when she is speaking to her family in Indonesia.

Whereas my younger siblings and I speak Brunei Malay regularly to our family and friends but when we chat on social media such as Instagram or Twitter most of the time we would use English instead of Brunei Malay. English also applies when I communicate with my friends on social media and also face to face interaction, but I often mix English and Malay whenever I have a conversation with my friends since it is quite normal to mix English and Malay in Brunei as mentioned by Deterding and Salbrina (2013) , But I never initiate a conversation in English or speak mix English and Malay when I am with my parents or other family members.

My Attitudes towards Language Use

My attitude toward Malay, in general, is positive because it creates a sense of belonging and unity in Brunei and most of Brunei's population uses Bahasa Melayu (Malay) to communicate with one another since it is also considered as Brunei's official language and is superior in any formal context such as education. (Conrad & Ozog, 1996). As for English I also have a positive attitude towards it, since it is also being used in formal context such as the law, where it is regarded as the prestige language and written statuses (Conrad & Ozog, 1996) and informal setting such as with communicating with friends especially the youths in higher institutions such as A-level and University students.

However, there is some stigma attached to mixing English and Malay in Brunei despite it being a norm in Brunei. As mentioned by Saxena (2011,p.278) in a speech given in June 2007. By the minister of culture, youth and sports in which the minister argued that mixing English and Malay are treated as a ‘polluted language' that is confusing and destroying the value of the people and the culture itself. Even though there is Stigma attached to it, I still use it today and I consider it normal to mix English and Malay when I speak to my friends and that it is much more fun to talk to my friends in both English and Malay. Moreover, the reason why I mix is simply that I can and because I am coping with my friends in which I consider mixing as a trend when I am with my friends. The stigma attached to mixing is probably the reason why I do not speak mix English and Malay to my family members and also because I might feel bothered by their English pronunciation.

Despite being bilingual learning a completely different language in university is a challenge. Learning Mandarin Chinese at University Brunei Darussalam is quite confusing and exciting at the same time. Being able to talk to a friend in a different language other than English and Malay makes me look smarter than usual. Learning mandarin tones is quite interesting where a single word for example “ma” can mean more than 2 or 3 meaning depending on the tone.

In general, my attitude towards all of the language that I use is quite neutral and normal especially when mixing English and Malay. Because as the world starts to globalize the use of English is getting more widely spread across the countries and mixing them with local language is getting quite popular among Asian countries such as Brunei, Malaysia, and even Singapore.


Above all, there are a lot of languages that can be learned and used by anyone but with terms and conditions apply. My Family, for example, speaks more than one language. Which makes it interesting when my father and mother switch their language in a formal and informal situation. Although my attitude towards each language that I speak is quite neutral between Malay and English and also mixing it becoming the norm in Brunei, the fact that I only speak mix English and Malay to my friends shows that there is still stigma attached to it. Moreover, as bilingual education increases, there is no denying that the use of English will increase in the future. (as cited in Conrad & Ozog , 1996 )


  1. Azam, Mclellan, J. , & Deterding, D. (2016) The Use and Status of Language in Brunei Darussalam : The Language Situation in Brunei Darussalam. Singapore : Springer.
  2. Conrad, A. & Ozog, K. (1996) The Unplanned use of English : The case of Brunei Darussalam : The Domain of Use. Ohio : Ohio University Center for International Studies.
  3. Conrad, A. & Ozog, K. (1996) The unplanned use of English : The case of Brunei Darussalam : Conclusion. Ohio : Ohio University Center for International Studies.
  4. Deterding, D. & Salbrina. (2013) Brunei English a New Variety in Multilingual Society : Introduction. Dordrecht : Springer.
  5. Deterding, D & Salbrina (2013) Brunei English a New Variety in Multilingual Society : Attitudes towars Mixing. Dordrecht : Springer.
  6. Yule, G. (2010) The Study of Language : Animal and Human Language. (4th ed.) United States of America : Cambridge University Press, New york.
  7. Yule, G. (2010) The Study of Language : Language and the Brain. (4th ed.) United States of America : Cambridge University Press, New York.
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