Reconciling Diverse Communities through Language Policy Practices in Malaysia

Ain Nadzimah Abdullah, Chan SweeHeng


Malaysia is an example of a diverse nation with communities facing multiplicities in religions, languages, linguistic practices and cultural beliefs. These multiplicities and polarities need to be understood and managed in order to maintain harmony and unity in this multilingual and multicultural nation. Malaysia, therefore, has to strategize and build up paths that would lead to a solid foundation of trust and cohesiveness among its citizens. This paper seeks to achieve a better and clearer understanding of Malaysian language policies and the relationships in linguistic practices that are seen to contribute to the reconciliation among diverse communities. The paper investigates the language phenomenon through a survey questionnaire that would give information about the relative emphases given to the use of the various languages, and perceptions about issues pertaining to language maintenance. Data reveal diversities in language use in relation to ethnicity and the reconciliations that emerge from these diversities. The reconciliation is an adopted move towards a more united and inclusive community creating “oneness” within multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-cultural Malaysia. The results are also linked to the current program for transformation of Malaysian society under the context of a mission for unity. 


Language planning, Language policy, Multilingual

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