The preservation of the Kadazandusun language should start at home to ensure it continues to be a source of pride for the community. Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is President of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA), said parents, therefore, have a responsibility to see that the language is spoken in their homes.
“Obviously, one way to preserve the language is to record it, conduct a research or put it in film.
“But the basic step is for parents to speak it at home since the mother tongue is learnt through listening,” he said at the launching of “Sinsindion Kadazan” book written by ex-Water Department Director Datuk Cosmas Abah.
Pairin, who is also Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Rural Development Minister, said it is also easier for children to learn and master the language if deliberately spoken at home.
Earlier, Kadazandusun Language Foundation Chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun said hundreds of tribal languages around the world are facing the threat of extinction. He said many words in the Kadazandusun language that are used to describe the community’s daily lives are no longer used in conversations today.
“Hence, it is important for all of us to consciously and deliberately develop and preserve the language,” he said.
However, he said the Kadazandusun, being a minority group, is having a hard time to preserve the legacy, heritage and language of the community. In this respect, Pairin said the community must make an effort to ensure the language is not lost.
“If we all have this realisation to make it a point to speak it, we can perpetuate the language,” he said.
Citing Latin, he said the language is supposedly no longer spoken but religions such as Christianity have ensured the language prospered and continued to be used.
When imparting the language, he said there must be consensus as to what standard dialect is used.
“It doesn’t matter which dialect should be used because we can’t be groping in the dark and lead the people astray. “So, in future standardise it and when you teach others the language, teach in the dialect you know best,” he said.
On the book by Cosmas, Pairin said the Kadazandusun community should emulate him by attempting to write books in the language.
He said the language was not really given prominence in print form since not many from the Kadazandusun community have the urge to put in paper their thoughts, ideas and knowledge.
The book, a collection of 113 poems written through observation, environment, feelings and the spur of the moment, he said is a good reference material for the younger generation.
Cosmas said he was inspired to jot down his thoughts on paper in 1992 when he was still the Director of the Water Department.
Initially, he said it was meant to educate the consumers of their responsibility to preserve water.
The poems, he said, were basically about culture, peace, love, social, patriotism, and environment as well as golf, of which he is an avid player.
He said he would be publishing his second book on the same subject matter in the near future.
Source: Daily Express April 22 2005.