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Extra resources for A grammar of West Coast Bajau

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1 The Sama-Bajaw: languages and origins The West Coast (WC) Bajau of Sabah belong to a cluster of peoples related linguistically and culturally. 1 The Bajaw peoples most commonly refer to themselves as ‘Sama’; their total numbers have been estimated at 750,000 to 900,000 (Sather 1997:2, 5). The composite term ‘Sama-Bajaw’ has been used by linguists to refer collectively to these peoples and their languages. According to Ruhlen (1987:167), the Sama-Bajaw languages form one of eleven subgroups of the Western Malayo-Polynesian branch of Austronesian languages.

Their social structure is more hierarchical whereas the WC Bajau are more egalitarian. Furthermore, the Iranun language is quite distinct from WC Bajau, as it is closely related to the Maranao language spoken in Mindanao (Philippines) and is not closely related to any Sama-Bajaw language. Hence, although intermarriage 9 occurs between the WC Bajau and the Iranun, the two groups remain distinct from each another culturally as well as linguistically. There are also speakers of other Sama-Bajaw languages in the area, such as in the mixed village of Kuala Abai (as noted above), though intermarriage does not appear to be common between WC Bajau and speakers of other Sama-Bajaw languages in the area.

Conversely, few WC Bajau have learned to speak the Kadazandusun or Iranun languages. 1 Kinship The WC Bajau, like many other Bornean societies, are a cognatic bilateral society. Victor King (1978:12) has acknowledged that bilateral societies tend to lay greater emphasis on choice in cooperating with kinsmen. Choice of residence, rather than prescribed kinship roles, is the most important organizing feature of WC Bajau society. Although residence is primarily among kin, the emphasis is on choice.

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A grammar of West Coast Bajau by by Mark T. Miller.


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