PETALING JAYA: Swedish linguists have discovered a previously unknown language spoken by a community of hunter-gatherers in Sungai Rual, Kelantan.
The language, known as Jedek, is used by some 280 villagers and was discovered while the team from Lund University was studying the Jahai language in the same area.
US magazine Science News quoted researchers Joanne Yager and Niclas Burenhult as saying that anthropologists had studied the villages there before but missed the language.
“We realised that a large part of the village spoke a different language.
“They used words, phonemes and grammatical structures that are not used in Jahai. Some of these words suggested a link with other Aslian languages spoken far away in other parts of the Malay Peninsula,” Yager was reported as saying.
As the villagers are a hunter-gatherer community, they have no words for occupations or courts of law, nor do they have words for concepts such as borrow, buy or sell, the report said.
Instead, they have a “rich vocabulary of words to describe exchanging and sharing”.
“We have so much to learn, not least about ourselves, from the largely undocumented and endangered linguistic and cultural riches that are out there,” Burenhult was quoted as saying.