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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

English-Malay-Kadazandusun Beginner’s Dictionary

Burongoh (second left) presents a copy of the dictionary to Dompok.

KOTA KINABALU: (Source: NST 22 March, 2009) More than 20,000 primary and secondary schools students will be able to learn the Kadazandusun language with the help of the newly launched Kadazandusun dictionary.

The English-Malay-Kadazandusun Beginner’s Dictionary authored by Rita Lasimbang and a copyright of the Kadazandusun Language Foundation (KLF) was launched by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok on March 20.

The dictionary was made possible through a project initiated by the Rotary Clubs of Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu and Penampang, and through the sponsorships of the Crocodile Foundation, GS and Trea Foundation, and Rotary International District 3310.

At present, 20,000 copies of the book have been printed and ready for distribution to some 276 primary schools and 31 secondary schools statewide, Tanjung Aru Rotary Club president Brenndon Keith Soh said.

“It is envisaged that this dictionary will be ongoing to meet the eventual target of 30,000 dictionaries. We will be distributing them to 21,880 students, 836 teachers in 307 schools.



While credit is given to Puan Rita Lasimbang for her unenviable tasks and efforts in compiling the ‘The English-Malay-Kadazandusun Beginner’s Dictionary’ with the noble objectives of preserving, developing and promoting the Kadazandusun language, inaccurate terminologies and illustrations used in the said tri-lingual dictionary should not be compromised, lest they mislead to the beginners or users while learning the language.

The case in point that I am referring to is the terminology “Kadazandusun” which appears in pages 14 and 15. On page 14, the said dictionary explains the various indigenous ethnic races in three different languages, and is further illustrated by costumes of the various indigenous ethnic races in pages 14 and 15. In both instances, the term “Kadazandusun” is used to denote as a race as well as to refer the traditional costumes associated with the ethnic race.

Regrettably, there is no mention of the term ‘Kadazan’ or ‘Dusun’ as indigenous ethnic race in the dictionary. The nuances as illustrated in the said dictionary fail to recognize both “Kadazan” and “Dusun” as indigenous ethnic race. This is tantamount to having the two races completely wiped out from the face of the earth!!! This is not only misleading but damaging in the preservation of the two major indigenous ethnic races in Sabah.

The Kadazan community supports any appropriate effort of KLF to develop, promote and preserve the Kadazandusun language. However, the community feels such effort should not involve the use of the terminology “Kadazandusun” to refer to a race as seen or depicted in the dictionary. This has the effect of misleading and confusing the users into believing that such race does in fact exist.

Even Tan Sri Dr. Herman Luping did explain in his book ‘Indigenous Ethnic Communities of Sabah – THE KADAZANDUSUN’ that the term ‘Kadazandusun’ is only a tagline for the unification of ‘Kadazan’ and “Dusun’. He did not say that ‘Kadazandusun’ was/is an ethnic race!!!

It was reported in the local newspaper (NST 22 March, 2009) that, “it is envisaged that this dictionary will be ongoing to meet the eventual target of 30,000 dictionaries. We will be distributing them to 21,880 students, 836 teachers in 307 schools.” It must be remembered that such circulation may affect the thinking of young children (and users as well) and would lead them to a conclusion that the ‘Kadazandusun’ race does exist when in fact it is not. This anomaly should be corrected at the earliest opportune time by the author herself or by KLF before damage is done.

It would appear that the impact created by this dictionary has a far reaching effect in that the indigenous races of 'Kadazan' or 'Dusun' seem to be non-existent. On the contrary, the term 'Kadazandusun' has been emphasized as a race when actually it is not. This should be corrected from the outset lest it becomes the truth – eventually – and damage is already done. Is this what the Kadazans or Dusuns is hoping for?


  1. Bravo to KDM! Good for our students, academicians and the future generation. SJD, don't lah critize about the term KD, we are talking about language for academicians and if the issue is about race then you right. Anyway, other published sources of KDM dictionary can also refer to the classic Kadazan Dictionary by Mill Hill Priest Fr Rev Antoinessen, Joe Manjaji's Kadazan/Malay dictionary, KSS dictionary for tourist and of course the Kadazan Dusun Dictionary by collaboration of KDCA/USDA/Education Dept.

  2. SJD, If we are to follow Anonymous's comment's then Dompok's United Pasok Kadazandusun Organisation (UPKO) or any organisation which has 'Kadazandusun' in its description is only for language per se? If that is the case then we better clear this one out.... Not bad lar :)

  3. ...I must agree with Mahandoi! As a matter of survival...(...politically, of course!)...UPKO should stand for...United People of Kinabalu Organisation!

    King Cup s/o Nche Matahari,
    Nuhu Nabahu.

  4. I think you are wrong Mahandoi, actually Dompok's party accronym UPKO stand for United Party KadazanDusunMurut Organization, and yes I agree with King Cup Sardine that for political reason we must accomodate whatever (its nothing to do with language). So when we are talking about race, language and religion we must be careful to deal with this issues. I observed that even veteran Tan Sri H Luping is always careful when using this term KD whenever he gave his public statement because before this he is very firm that there was no such thing as Kadazandusun but now in his recent published book he have used or borrowed this term or whatever, cheerio!

  5. oops! UPKO should be United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Organization, and if it wrongly reflect the race I suggest the UPKO members to hantar satu usul cadangan ialah United Pasokmomogun KadazanDusunMurutOrangasli Organization

  6. for linguists, the kadazandusun should be made into separated items. Both are considered to be different. Sia rasa bukan pasal mau pertikaikan the term but, untuk bagi senang untuk membuat kerja kajian untuk linguists...kalau linguists, banyak beza bah tuh..list of phonemes pun sudah lain, intonasi apa lagi. mesti mau kasi asing2. future projek sia mau buat text-to-speech dusun/kadazan... memang nda boleh treat dua bahasa itu jadi sama..

  7. Better if we have one standard kadazandusun languange for all KD people. With one KD languange, the language can easily be modernised. We have to keep up with the rest of the world. Maybe someday, they will teach primary school science in KD language. Now wont that be fantastic.