“At Lost for Words”: A Case Study on the Dialect Vocabulary Knowledge among Bruneian Youths in a Higher Institute of Education


  • Norazmie Yusof Universiti Brunei Darussalam
  • Balazs Huszka Universiti Brunei Darussalam
  • Yabit Alas Universiti Brunei Darussalam
  • Harun Joko Prayitno Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta
  • Minah Sintian Sultan Idris Education University


Brunei Malay Dialect, Vocabulary Knowledge Scale, Language Preservation, Language Maintenance


This study aimed to identify the knowledge of Brunei Malay dialect vocabulary among youths and to discuss the challenges as well as steps in enhancing the knowledge of this dialect. Brunei Malay dialect or known as ‘Cakap Barunai’ is a dialect widely used among Bruneians, and considered as the mother tongue and the daily communication language among the locals. According to studies, the Ethno Vitality Rate of Brunei Malay dialect was high and considered safe; however, recent trends have shown decreasing usage of Brunei Malay especially among the Bruneian youths (15-40 years old). There are insufficient studies to ascertain whether this trend affects the youths’ Brunei Malay vocabulary knowledge. This study adapted the Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) test on the Brunei Malay vocabulary and a set of survey containing Likert scale and open-ended questions to collect the research data distributed among 102 respondents. Based on the data, the knowledge of Brunei Malay dialect was considered low as only 20.9% received responses that indicated the correct vocabulary’s meaning. The survey showed that influences from different languages and social media, and lack of exposure and intergenerational transfer were the main causes of this issue. Suggestions to preserve this dialect included education, campaigns, social media and family involvement.


Download data is not yet available.


Abdullah, K. (2022). Penggunaan Bahasa Melayu Standard dan Bahasa Melayu di Brunei Darussalam. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from https://www.nie.edu.sg/docs/default-source/academic-group/asian-languages-and-cultures/04-the-use-of-standard-malay-and-brunei-standard-malay-in-brunei-darussalam.pdf?sfvrsn=cbb06575_2"

Alas, Y. (1997). Penggunaan Bahasa Melayu Brunei di kalangan masyarakat bukan Melayu di Sabah. Paper presented at the Simposium Bahasa Melayu Brunei. Universiti Brunei Darussalam 31 October-1 November 1997.

Brown, D. (2008). Using a modified version of the Vocabulary Knowledge Scale to aid vocabulary development. The Language Teacher, 32(12), 15-16. Retrieved from

Kamus Bahasa Melayu Brunei. (2007). Bandar Seri Begawan: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka

Clynes, A. (2001). Brunei Malay: An overview. Occasional Papers in Language Studies, Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics, UBD. 7, 11–44. http://fass.ubd.edu.bn/

Colluzi, P. (2010). Endangered Languages in Borneo: A Survey among the Iban and Murut (Lun Bawang) in Temburong, Brunei, Oceanic Linguistics ,49(1):119-143 DOI: 10.1353/ol.0.0063

Coluzzi, P. (2012). Modernity and globalization: Is the presence of English and of cultural products in English a sign of linguistic and cultural imperialism? Results of a study conducted in Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 33(2), 117-131.

Dornyei, Z., & Taguchi, T. (2010). Questionnaires in Second Language Research: Construction, Administration and Processing (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Fabian, F. B., Sintian, M., & Yusof, N. (2022). Penelitian asas numerasi dalam lagu rakyat kanak-kanak Dusun Bundu sebagai asas pembelajaran matematik [Basic research of numeracy in children’s folk songs of the Dusun Bundu as a basic of mathematics learning]. Muallim Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 57-67.

Guérin, V., & Yorupi, P. (2017). Language endangerment. In H. Sato, & J. Bradshaw (Eds),

Languages of the Pacific Islands Introductory Readings, (pp 209-219). CreateSpace

Independent Publishing Platform

Haryono, A. (2012). Perubahan dan perkembangan bahasa: Tinjauan historis dan sosiolinguistik [PhD Thesis]. Udayana University.

Huszka, B., Yusof, N., Mohiel-Din Ahmed, M. ., & Jun, T. K. (2021). English,

Arabic, and Chinese Loanwords in Brunei Malay. LingPoet: Journal of Linguistics and

Literary Research, 2(3), 1-12. Retrieved from https://talenta.usu.ac.id/lingpoet/article/view/7282

Koizumi, R., & In'nami, Y. (2013). Vocabulary knowledge and speaking proficiency among second language learners from novice to intermediate levels. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 4(5), 900.

Mahali, S. N. H. (2020). Pengaruh Dialek Melayu Brunei dalam Dialek Melayu Sabah. Jurnal Melayu, 19(1), 105-123

Martin, P. W. (1995). Whither the indigenous languages of Brunei Darussalam?. Oceanic Linguistics, 34, 44–60.

Martin, P. W. (1996). Brunei Malay and Bahasa Melayu: a sociolinguistic perspective. MONOGRAPHS IN INTERNATIONAL STUDIES SOUTHEAST ASIA SERIES, 27-36.

Nothofer, B. (1991). The languages of Brunei Darussalam. In H. Steinhauer (Ed.), Papers in Austronesian Linguistics. Canberra: Australian National University. 151–176.

Noor Azam, H.O. (2005). Lingsuistic Diversity in Brunei Darussalam: An Ecological Perspective. [PhD Thesis]. United Kingdon: University of Leicester.

Poedjosoedarmo. S. (2008). “Perubahan Bahasa.” In Ceramah Ilmiah Linguistik Pada Pusat

Kajian Melayu-Jawa. Fakultas Sastra Universitas Sebelas Maret Surakarta, 2008.

Ursachi, G., Horodnic, I. A., & Zait, A. (2015). How Reliable are Measurement Scales? External Factors with Indirect Influence on Reliability Estimators. Procedia Economics and

Finance, 20, 679-686. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2212-5671(15)00123-9

Wesche, M., & Paribakht, S. (1996). Assessing L2 vocabulary knowledge: Depth versus breadth. Canadian Modern Language Review, 53, 13-40.

Yusof, N., & Alas, Y. (2021a). Benefits and Students’ Perception on Role-Play Teaching Technique: Progressive & Fun Learning Experiences in Brunei. Indonesian Journal on Learning and Advanced Education (IJOLAE), 3(3), 225-234.

Yusof, N., & Alas, Y. (2021b). Using Role-Play to Teach Minority Ethnic Languages: A Case Study at Universiti Brunei Darussalam. In Globalisation, Education, and Reform in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 177-196). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Yusof, M. N. M., & Mahali, S. N. H. (2019). Pengaruh Bahasa Melayu dalam Bahasa Dusun Brunei. Jurnal Bahasa, 19(1), 96-116.

Yusof, N. (2012). How can drama and performance in the classroom contribute to the moral and social development of students? A case study. [Master Thesis], University of Warwick.

Yusof, N. (2021). Teknik Main Peranan Sebagai Satu Kaedah Pembelajaran Bahasa Etnik di Negara Brunei Darussalam [PhD thesis]. Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia.



How to Cite

Yusof, N., Huszka, B. ., Alas, Y., Prayitno , H. J. ., & Sintian, M. (2023). “At Lost for Words”: A Case Study on the Dialect Vocabulary Knowledge among Bruneian Youths in a Higher Institute of Education . LingPoet: Journal of Linguistics and Literary Research, 4(2), 91-104. Retrieved from https://talenta.usu.ac.id/lingpoet/article/view/12165