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.
“The dictionaries will be handed over to the KLF which will in turn request for the assistance of the State Education Department to distribute them to the students studying the language via the 26 education department zones,” he said.
Keith said the project was to support the teaching and learning of the Kadazandusun language in schools and to supply the English-Malay-Kadazandusun Beginner’s Dictionary as a basic material.
In this era of modernisation, development and globalisation, the Kadazandusun community has become more aware of the decline in the use of the mother tongue especially as more dominant languages entered its domain, he said.
As such, he said the situation calls for a concerted effort to reverse the trend – seeing that being able to speak in the mother tongue was a mark of the community’s identity.
“This project will therefore support the promotion of the Kadazandusun mother tongue through the supply of teaching and learning materials in Kadazandusun in schools in the form of a dictionary.
“A dictionary of this nature is considered as a basic tool in learning the language. Furthermore, it will be useful for both the teachers who are teaching the language in school and the students themselves,” Keith said.
He said between 20,000 to 30,000 copies of the dictionary will be printed.
In his short remark, Dompok pointed out that the richness of the Kadazandusun language could not be captured by the children if its spoken application was not widely practised.
“The number of people conversing in the language is declining. Perhaps one thing that can be done is to go down to talk to couples who are getting married or those who have given birth, to encourage them to speak the mother tongue to their children,” he said.
He said the transition in development should not affect the use of the community’s mother tongue. Its near extinction was the main reason why they had appealed to the Malaysian government to allow the language to be taught in schools.
Hence, parents should consider speaking the Kadazandusun language to their children at birth to ensure that it was not lost through passage of time, Dompok stressed.
Also present at the launching ceremony were Rotary Club district governor Edward Sung Burongoh and KLF president Tan Sri Simon Sipaun.