Semai

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A language of Malaysia

Alternate Names
“Central Sakai” (pej.), Sengoi, Seng’oi, Senoi
Population

Ethnic population: 42,400 (2008 JHEOA).

Location

Peninsular, Northwest Pahang and south Perak states, north Selangor State.

Language Maps
Language Status

3 (Wider communication).The lingua franca of the Malaysian Aslian military armed forces unit (Bradley 2007).

Dialects

Betau, Bidor, Bil, Cameron (Cameron Highlands), Gopeng, Jelai, Lipis, Parit, Perak I, Perak II, Tanjung Malim, Tapah (Jalan Pahang), Telom, Ulu Kampar (Kampar). Some dialects not mutually intelligible (2006 T. Phillips).

Language Use

Cameron Highlands dialect is used on radio and is a school language (Bradley 2007). Vigorous. Home, church, village. All ages. Positive attitudes. 100% also use Malay [zlm]. Some also use Temiar [tea] (Bradley 2007).

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 5%. Literacy rate in L2: 60%. Literacy in Semai growing. Taught in primary schools. Dictionary. Bible portions: 1951–2011.
Writing

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

‘Sakai’, slave. ‘Sengoi’, people, in Semai. West Semai more acculturated to Malay society than east Semai.