The Kadazan Language:
Speak Kadazan Daily to Preserve IT!

Kadazan Language in the strict sense, refers to the language spoken by the Kadazans of Kimanis-Membakut-Papar and the Tangaà (Tangaah) of Penampang-Putatan.

Kohintung (bamboo tray) used for drying food items, threshing or cleaning rice grains (in the old days)

This Language, is presently spoken in the region that stretches from the Nosoob-Kepayan area through Penampang-Putatan to Papar. Many people from the Tambunan plains and other areas are able to speak the lingo.

However, there are claims that Penampang people speak Tangaà while the Papar people speak Kadazan.

(The picture shows several 'kohintung' of different sizes. This is the Kadazan word for bamboo tray.) 1

Ability to Understand and Speak Kadazan
The majority of young Kadazan and Kadazan children cannot understand, what more speak, their mother tongue. If this trend continues, there may come a time when no one among the next few generations can communicate in Kadazan.

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There are several reasons for this development, among which are the following.

  • Many, perhaps the majority of, parents are not communicating with their children in Kadazan.
  • Many parents fail to inculcate in their children the love for their mother tongue.
  • Many parents themselves are not very good at speaking and in understanding Kadazan.
  • Many among educated parents prefer to speak to their children in a language other than the Kadazan language. They believe that this will help their children's academic performance.
  • A fairly big number of Kadazan parents do not realise that failure to communicate with their children in Kadazan will have negative effects on the their identity.
  • (Possibly) lack of feeling of attachment to or patriotism towards one's own people among many Kadazans.

Ultimate Effect of Loss of The Kadazan Language

As a concerned Kadazan, you may not want the Kadazan people to lose their identity.

Some Kadazan leaders have taken initiatives to ensure that the language lives on. Kadazan is now taught as a subject in schools, thanks to these far-sighted leaders. But you may want to ask, "Is this enough? Is this something too little too late?"

One Simple But Effective Way of Preserving Kadazan Identity
What is the one single action that is simple to implement but very effective in preventing loss of Kadazan identity?

You know it already! It is by speaking and communicating in the Kadazan lingo every time and all the time, wherever and at whatever occasion.

Learning the Kadazan language as a subject in schools is good and is appreciated. Only good can result from such positive action.

However, for Kadazan children to excel in their mother tongue, they need to learn to love it. Kadazan parents can help their children to have that sense of pride in being able to communicate in the language of their own people.

Words of Encouragement
The concern for preserving Kadazan identity did not start just a few years ago. It had always existed since the rise of Kadazan patriotism and nationalism.

During the time when many Kadazans felt that their people were going nowhere, with fears that their very identity was under threat, the late Datuk Peter Joinod Mojuntin, reputedly "The Golden Son of the Kadazans", was heard to have said,

    "Aù ii atagak o boos tinaù Kadazan nung kivaa songuhun no ii kakaal moboos do boos Kadazan."

2 (Translation: "The Kadazan language will never disappear as long as there is one person who continues to speak the Kadazan Language.")

Encourage and support your spouse, your children, your speaking in your mother tongue. If you do this, you will have played your role in preserving the identity of your own people.

Love your "Boos" (language). Make others love it. Take pride in it. Through your own language you show the whole world your true identity.

Support initiatives taken by whosoever - government agencies, organizations, groups or individuals - having the objective of helping preserve the Kadazan language.

Beware of those who believe and say that knowledge of the language brings no utilitarian benefit at all. The cost of the loss of a language is no less than loss of identity. You will not feel the loss until something of value is gone forever.

Practice Makes Permanent
Practise speaking in Kadazan. It is never too early to learn. It is never too late to learn. Make it an on-going learning. Make it a life-long activity. Yes, for you and your family.

It is often said that practice makes perfect. It is also said that practice makes permanent.

So practise, practise, practise. And practise some more.

1 The bamboo used is of a thicker type the Kadazans call "POING".
2 According to Clement Lotinggi.

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