Bajau, West Coast


A language of Malaysia

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

Ethnic population: 55,000 (2000 SIL).


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

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 children; all adolescents, adults and elderly. Positive attitudes. All also use Sabah Malay [msi]. Some also use Hakka Chinese [hak]. 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]. Poetry. New media. Radio programs. Videos. Grammar. Agency: Persatuan Bahasa dan Budaya Bajau Sama Sabah (BSBB).

Latin script [Latn], developed in about 1998.

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