Bajau, West Coast


A language of Malaysia

Alternate Names
Bajau, Bajau Sama, Land Bajaw, West Coast Bajao, West Coast Bajaw

Ethnic population: 210,000 (2010 census).


Sabah: Kudat district, Banggi Island, Telutu’ village; Pitas district, south Marudu bay, mainly Dalima’, Jambangan, Kanibungan, Layag-Layag, Mapan-Mapan, Mausar, Mengkapon, Mengkubau Laut, Pantai Laut, and Sibayan Laut villages; west coast scattered from Kuala Penyu to Kudat districts, mainly Kota Belud and Tuaran towns.

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened).


Kota Belud, Putatan, Papar, Banggi, Sandakan, Pitas, Kawang. More structural diversity than other Borneo languages. Related to but distinct from East Coast Bajau languages of Malaysia and the Philippines, and Indonesian Bajau [bdl] (1977 K. Pallesen). Less than 65% intelligibility with Southern Sama [ssb]. Papar dialect used in national broadcasting. May be more than 1 language.


SVO and VSO word orders; 3 voice system (actor voice, undergoer voice, ‘true passive’).

Language Use

All domains except Education. Some young people, all adults. Positive attitudes. All also use Sabah Malay [msi]. A few also use English [eng]. Also use Mapun [sjm], Tatana [txx]. Used as L2 by Brunei [kxd], Bugis [bug], Iranun [ilm], Kadazan Dusun [dtp], Lotud [dtr], Mapun [sjm], Papar [dpp], Southern Sama [ssb].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 20%. Literacy rate in L2: 80% Standard Malay [zsm]. Radio. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. Agency: Persatuan Bahasa dan Budaya Bajau Sama Sabah (BSBB).


Latin script [Latn], developed in about 1998.

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