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Semaq Beri

Semaq Beri (ISO639-3: SZC, population c. 2600) is an Aslian language spoken in the Malay Peninsula. Aslian is a sub-branch of the Austroasiatic family. The Aslian languages are divided into three clades—Northern, Central and Southern—and Semaq Beri belongs to the latter along with Semelai, Mah Meri and Temoq. Typologically, Semaq Beri is typically Aslian with complex derivational morphology, and a rich lexicon with fine semantic distinctions in basic monolexemic forms. There is a distinction between dynamic and stative verbs, rampant ellipsis of arguments, and a predominantly VSO word order.
The northeastern Semaq Beri live adjacent to the Semang linguistic and cultural sphere. Formerly mobile hunter-gathers like their neighbours the Batek (Northern Aslian) with whom they have traditionally co-existed, they now live in a government-run resettlement village (pop. 360) that was established in the late 1970s. The community consists of Semaq Beri intermarried with Batek, and many people speak both languages. Traditionally, the Semaq Beri had moved in the upper watersheds of the Tembeling, Terengganu and Aring Rivers. They moved through the forest in small bands of eight to ten families, making temporary camps of lean-to shelters, hunting and fishing, and foraging for the many kinds of wild tubers, seasonal fruits, and honey. Periodically, they would camp on the fringe of Malay settlements, collecting forest produce on demand, or engaging in waged labour in the rice fields. The Semaq Beri also speak Malay (Austronesian).

Selected Publications and Corpora

  • Kruspe, Nicole. 2015. Semaq Beri. In M. Jenny & P. Sidwell (eds.) Handbook of Austroasiatic Languages, 475-518. Leiden: Brill.
  • Kruspe, Nicole. 2007-2011. Semoq Beri and Batek, from The Language Archive:
  • Kruspe, Nicole. 2016. Sem Beri: Perceptual Modalities, from The Language Archive:
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