Why bother maintaining languages? A discussion based on diminishing Chinese dialects in Malaysia

Teresa Wai See Ong

Chinese dialects, Malaysia, Language maintenance


Language maintenance and language shift are vital subfields in sociolinguistics. In Malaysia, past studies have observed a shift from Chinese dialects to Mandarin Chinese in the language use of many young generation Chinese, which has led to the endangerment of some dialects. This situation draws attention to the role and survival of Chinese dialects in Malaysian society, and thereby creates a need to discuss the reasons for maintaining them. However, this is not merely a question of continuing to speak Chinese dialects. More deeply, we need to have conversations about who we are, where our ancestors originated from, and how we can make Chinese dialects more worthwhile for maintenance. This article seeks to elicit support for the language maintenance of small language groups across the globe.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies