by Asmah Haji Omar
The Mah Meri Language: An Introduction gives a comprehensive description of the systems and structures of Mah Meri, the language of a Malaysian aboriginal tribe by that name, domiciled in Kampung Bukit Bangkong, Sepang, situated to the south of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. This group has been referred to in literature written by Westerners as Besisi, but the people themselves never use this term as a label for their group or their language._x005F_x000D_
As the title indicates, it is meant to introduce to researchers in linguistics and related disciplines not only the basic systems and structures, but also the culture and belief system that goes with the language._x005F_x000D_
The manuscript is the result of a ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¯Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â??eld work undertaken by linguists of the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University of Malaya, Kuala Lurnpur. There has not been in existence a comprehensive study of the systems and structures of this language, in terms of phonology, morphology, syntax and the lexicon. Chapters on these topics provide a clear picture of how the language works._x005F_x000D_
Although the focus of the research conducted was language, methodology of data collection devised for the purpose has given ample data on culture, social organisation and belief system._x005F_x000D_
As evident from the 19 chapters. the language has undergone tremendous changes due to inÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¯Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡uence from Malay which the people acquire through their association with the Malays living around them, and through the national education system where Malay is the main medium of instruction. Such changes are mostly indicated in the lexicon, while native Mah Meri grammatical. structures are preserved. The lexico-semantic changes are a reÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¯Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡ection of the socio-economic development that has been taking place in the community._x005F_x000D_
The manuscript is not only meant for linguists but for scholars; of academic disciplines who are interested in the study of the Mah Meri people. It is the belief of linguists that to know a people one has to know their language. For this reason, the approach taken in the linguistic analysis of this language is one that is simple but discursive in nature.