Learn Kadazan Phrases,
One Phrase at a Time
The Kadazan phrases you find on this page are for you to ponder and get a feel of the
Kadazan Language. You may know or have some idea about the meaning of such Kadazan phrases.
Try to say these phrases aloud and listen to the sound you make. It will do you good if you can find a "Kadazan di otuutuo" (a Kadazan elder) who knows the language well. Younger Kadazans who
knows the Kadazan language well are now very few in number. Ask around at open market (tomu). That is, if you are interested in learning the Kadazan language first hand.
You may prefer to go to a public library to look for a copy of a
Kadazan Dictionary. You can inquire about the newly-published Kadazan-English-Malay Dictionary. Libraries may even have a copy of Antonissen's Kadazan-English Dictionary.
Also try to get a copy of any book written in the Kadazan Language (that is, based on the Penampang dialect or, if none, the Papar dialect.
Some Kadazan Phrases and Words as Starters
(Words in Kadazan) are stated first. The English word are considered
the nearest in meaning. (Disclaimer: The writer does NOT claim to be an
expert in the Kadazan Language.)
You may want to start learning these phrases now.
- "Iisai ngaan nu?", What is your name? iisai, what; ngaan, name; nu, your.
"Iisai ko?" Who are you? Ko. You. (Note 1)
- "John zou." I am John.
- "Nombo ngozon nu?" Where are you going? nombo, where; ngozon,going; nu,you
- "Ahaid ko?" "Naamot nopo". Will you be long? Only for a while. long, ahaid; naamot, for a while; nopo, only. "Naamot nopo do doiti zou." I am here for only a while.
- "Aahom toobong diti" This well is deep. aahom, deep. toobong, well. diti, this. The "too" in toobong is not pronounced like the English "too" but more like "talk".
- "Indadon ku iziau." I will wait for you. indadon, wait. ku, I. iziau, you.
- "Mugad zou nogi." I will also go. mugad, go. zou, I. nogi, also.
- "Asapou asam."Heavy rain,. There's downpour. asapou, heavy. asam, rain. The antonym of "asapou" is "odigas", Little. Asapou also means "abundant" as in "abundant fruits" (Asapou tuvah). A synonym for asapou is "ogumuh". You may not say Ogumu asam but you can say, "Ogumuh tuvah." Odigas, Few; not many. You can say both "Odigas asam" and "Odigas tuvah."
- "Mogunsamang o booson dau." He (she) is talking nonsense. mogunsamang, nonsense. booson, Something that a person is talking about. dau, he or she. Mogunsamang ko. You're talking nonsense.
- "Nopongo no." Has been completed. Is completed. Has ended. It's done. nopongo, completed; ended. no, Aaready. The "no" is not pronounced as the English "no" or "know" but more like the"no" in "nothing."
- "Ogumu haid o tuhun Kadazan do moobuubuvat." Formerly, there were many Kadazan people who were farmers. ogumu, many. haid, formerly. tuhun, people. mobuubuvat, farmers. You can also say, "There were many Kadazans who were farmers."
- "Au nodii miho pamaladu o kalabau." Buffaloes cannot be used for ploughing anymore." au, cannot. nodii, anymore. miho, can but it can also be "USED" in this context. pamaladu, ploughing. kalabau, water buffalo.
- "Kotunud (Koiho) ko lahan kumaa Penampang?" Do you know the way to Penampang? kotunud, know. ko, you. lahan, way. kumaa, to. Penampang, a district on the west coast of Sabah, not far from the Capital, Kota Kinabalu.
- "Muhi zou no dii." I am going home. muhi, going home. zou,I
- "Mamadaah ko dogo." You are torturing me. mamadaah,torture. ko,you. dogo,me
- "Izou nangku ii?" Is it I? izou, I
- "Kanou minsingiho Kadazan."
Let us learn Kadazan. kanou,let us. minsingiho,learn. Kadazan, the
native tribe living within the area stretching from Papar-Kimanis to
Penampang or their language.
- "Ia-o' zou." Teach me. ia-o',teach.
Learn a Kadazan Phrase a day. Take your time.
However, if you are a Kadazan or has Kadazan blood and are
concerned about preserving the Kadazan language you need to persevere.
If you can understand the Kadazan Language and can talk in
Kadazan, and converse with members of your family in Kadazan, your
family's Kadazan identity is assured for the next fifty years (at the
Check out from time to time for new Kadazan phrases or words.
(1) Kadazan is unique in that the word 'isai' can
mean 'who' or 'what' depending on the sentence. 'What is your name?'
translates into 'Nunu ngaan nu?' literally. When referring to a person,
'isai' is used. In relation to other things, 'nunu' is used. For
example, 'Nunu ngaan tombohog diti?' which is 'What is the name of this
bird?' You don't say, 'Isai ngaan tombohog diti?'
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