Language Use by Hakka in Sabah 沙巴客家人語言使用調查

畢業學校:MONASH University
畢業系所:Faculty of Education
Hakka is one of the Chinese ethnic groups that have scattered across Southern China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and regions of Southeast Asia. Hakka people have experienced a long history of diaspora. Their language was the lingua franca among various Chinese waves of Chinese migrations during the 1950s in Sabah, Malaysia. Language use by the Hakka peoples was profoundly affected during the last century by British colonialism, the Second World War, the shift of Chinese authority and the establishment of Malaysia. Although the Hakka population continues to remain the majority ethnic group in Sabah Chinese communities, the Hakka language is no longer the lingua franca.
This research investigates and explores patterns of language choice by three Hakka generations in a Hakka community in Sabah, Malaysia. Language shift is examined via observation and interview data from 52 Hakka individuals across three generations. Hakka language has been maintained in Sabah for more than 100 years, but is currently being challenged and the data indicate that it is potentially under threat for continued survival. This research employs sociolinguistic and ethnolinguistic frameworks to look into language use by Hakka and the related factors of cultures, society, education and ethnic relationships.
Results show that Hakka is a preferred language by participants who are aged 30 or over while the young Hakkas are more interested in Mandarin and English. Cantonese plays an interesting role in the Hakka community, Cantonese has been labelled as useful, common and more polite than Hakka but less conventional. The older Hakka participants in this study articulated strong Hakka identities and were explicitly involved in passing down all Hakka traditions to their children whilst their children (now middle-aged participants) did not always practise these traditions or use Hakka language in their homes. The same middle-aged participants spoke Hakka to their parents but many chose Mandarin as the family language for their children. Therefore, the youngest Hakkas were not encouraged to acquire Hakka language by their parents at home or at school. Hakka language in the Hakka community is facing language shift as the language is failing intergenerational transmission. However, Hakka
identity is firm in the Hakka community, and the well-organised Hakka Associations in Sabah also reflect their ambitions of maintaining Hakka language and culture.
The research contributes to the limited empirical data on a Hakka community, offering linguistic understanding of overseas minority Chinese in Southeast Asia. It is hoped to promote the recognition of language maintenance and shift through the Hakka in Sabah.