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Emcee cultural events in native tongue without feeling inconsiderate – Dompok

31 May 2022

By Wartawan Nabalu News

PENAMPANG: Some Kadazandusun cultural events nowadays choose to do emceeing in Bahasa due to the rapid decline of native tongue articulation among Sabahan people.

While this is a thoughtful move for non-speakers, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok – Sabahan figure who has fought towards preserving the Kadazandusun language – said these events should use the native tongue without feeling as if it is inconsiderate to others.

He explained that this is because the Kadazandusun community should insist on speaking the native language, as advised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in order to keep it from extinction.

“This is not an easy task, but I’ve seen lots of friends who are able to do that,” he mentioned during a webinar, The Revival of Our Indigenous Heritage by Borneo Forum, recently.

“All functions related to the culture and language of Kadazandusun that are being done by the government or organisations should be emceed using the native language without any shame or feeling of being inconsiderate to the rest,” he said.

Dompok reasoned that some Kadazandusun events choose to emcee in Bahasa to not offend non-speakers who attend the event.

“But I think they (non-speakers) probably want to learn it (the language) too. Perhaps, you’d like to let them go home knowing a word or two of the Kadazan language,” he said.

In an earlier 2005 Unesco’s report, the Kadazandusun language was classified as an endangered language, spoken by a mere 300,000 people, joining about 7,000 other languages worldwide that face the real threat of extinction.

Chairing the Kadazandusun Language Foundation (KLF), Dompok has come up with several initiatives to address the issue which include making the Kadazandusun language an official language subject in school curriculum.

“In this era of modernization, development and globalization, indigenous communities became aware of the decline in the use of their mother tongue or indigenous language especially as more dominant languages enter its domain.

“Loss of mother tongue means loss of indigenous heritage, loss of ethnic identity. For the Kadazandusun community, its main desire to address this concern is for the Kadazandusun language to be taught in school,” he stated.

“As you can see that it is now a language that is taught in school and the acceptance of that, I think this shows that we have been able to stem the flow of problems besetting the language today.”

The language has been in the curriculum standard since 19997 and to date, the teaching of this language is recognised in two higher institutions in Malaysia – IPG Kent and UPSI.

Another important thing, said Dompok, is to protect the language by creating and producing printed resources as has been done by KLF itself and many other organisations and personalities.

“We also have a very active community life with the harvest festival celebrated annually in the month of May. You have one month of festivities in which all aspects of community are on display. I think this is a very good way of preserving the language and the culture will remain.”


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