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Jedek: A newly discovered Aslian variety of Malaysia

  • Joanne Yager EMAIL logo and Niclas Burenhult
From the journal Linguistic Typology


Jedek is a previously unrecognized variety of the Northern Aslian subgroup of the Aslian branch of the Austroasiatic language family. It is spoken by about 280 individuals in the resettlement area of Sungai Rual, near Jeli in Kelantan state, Peninsular Malaysia. The community originally consisted of several bands of foragers along the middle reaches of the Pergau river. Jedek’s distinct status first became known during a linguistic survey carried out in the DOBES project Tongues of the Semang (2005–2011). This article describes the process leading up to its discovery and provides an overview of its typological characteristics.


We wish to express our gratitude first and foremost to the community at Sungai Rual. We also wish to acknowledge the Economic Planning Unit, Putrajaya; the Department of Orang Asli Development, Kuala Lumpur; Prof. Dr. Kamila Ghazali, University of Malaya; and Prof. Dr. Rogayah A. Razak, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. We are grateful to Geoffrey Benjamin, Marianne Gullberg, Nicole Kruspe, Asifa Majid, Ewelina Wnuk, and an anonymous reviewer for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this article, and to Jens Larsson for preparing the images. Joanne Yager’s research was supported by the Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology at Lund University, and her field-based data collection was carried out with support from the Lars Hierta Memorial Foundation, The Birgit Rausing Language Programme, Fil. Dr. Uno Otterstedt Foundation, and The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Niclas Burenhult’s research was supported by a Volkswagen Foundation DOBES grant and a Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation Jubilee Initiative Grant NHS14-1665:1.


1/2/3=1st/2nd/3rd person


beckoning particle






collective plural


cursing word










emphatic particle




contrast-marking preposition


goal-marking preposition








invitational particle








location-marking preposition








nominal modifier


object-marking preposition










distant past


recent past


question proclitic






relational tense




source-marking preposition


subject-marking preposition




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Received: 2016-11-22
Revised: 2017-10-10
Published Online: 2017-12-7
Published in Print: 2017-12-20

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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