Kadazan & Dusun Languages are becoming Extinct! (Shocking News!)

Joanna Rampas - Unduk Ngadau 2007
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I was born in Kampung Limbahau, Papar, Sabah, Malaysia. My father, the late Benjamin Henry Gomes, an ex-senior police officer was born in Pengalat Kecil, Papar. My mother, the late Mathilda Marianus Gansaluk was a pure Kadazan from Kampung Limbahau, Papar.

My father’s father was a Portugese and his mother, Munah Yapp, was a Kadazan-Chinese from Penampang. My grandmother’s father was Yapp Ah Loong who married Ginulim Labanka, a Kadazan from Penampang and had 2 children, namely James Claudius Yapp and Munah Magdelene Yapp.

The above brief explanation is a clear indication that I and my other siblings possess a high percentage of Kadazan blood. Our mother tongue was Malay but, being educated in English schools, we grew up speaking English to one another. And likewise, all our children and their offspring are brought up speaking English. It was unfortunate that our dear mother, bless her soul, never exposed us to the Kadazan language.

Kadazan couple of Papar

Kadazan couple of Papar

After being away in Australia for 15 years, I came home with a strong desire to trace and retain my Kadazan root and be fluent in the language. I managed to get hold of an excellent book entitled “Learn to speak Kadazan” by John and Carolyn Miller published in 1985.

While I was attempting to master the language, I came across several “Kadazandusun” language books. After browsing through them I became very disoriented and bemused with this language. It seems that it is composed of the “Kadazan” and “Dusun” languages “fused together”.  I believe such a move has been politically engineered to unite these ethnic groups.   To these respective politicians, hats off to you for your great concern and endeavour but I personally feel you have made a boo boo…..

Dusun Lotud couple of Tuaran

Dusun Lotud couple of Tuaran

I conducted a research and interviewed a number of Kadazan and Dusun parents. The results were disheartening. Many comments arose from distraught parents and other concerned citizens and visitors, such as:

“I teach my children how to speak my language the proper way but they mess it up.”

One Dusun mother showed her grievances, “I can’t understand the language my son speaks. I can only understand certain words”

“They make “rojak” of our language”.

One old man cried, “Where does this language come from? I have never heard of it in my younger days. Such a muddle language….”

One foreigner asked, “I have never heard of the Kadazandusun. Is it a new tribe?

One Chinese lady commented, “It will be a mockery to the Chinese people if this is done to our language. It is ridiculous!”

As a Kadazan, I too feel utterly thwarted and unenthusiastic of the new found language. It is of my opinion that such a move to create this “Kadazandusun” language for “unity sake” is more detrimental to these ethnic groups than accomplishing positive objectives.

Prior to such implementation, the respective enforcers should have first gone down to the grassroots and get feedback from most of the ordinary people from these ethnic groups prior to making decision to execute it. By being silent on this issue does not imply that these ethnic factions are supportive of the implementation. My research has already proven otherwise.

To speak the “Kadazandusun” language is like saying I speak “Mandarinhokkien” or “Cantonesehakka” or “Tagalogsuluk”….. Hilarious isn’t it?

Friendly Advice to Politicians: “To succeed in uniting ethnic groups, conduct effective fellowship drive, awareness and activities. Don’t touch on their cultures, customs, religions and languages.” This may result in political “executions”, negative popularity and ramification.

This newly created language will despondently obliterate the cultural identity of these ethnic groups in being “Pure” Kadazans or “Pure” Dusuns as their original languages will eventually be prevailed over by this new language and gradually fade into oblivion (extinct). And it may have repercussions in distancing children from their parents as failure to communicate effectively in their mother tongue is becoming evident.

The ability to audibly communicate plays an effective role in strengthening unity. Sign language is but a fraction solution in developing unity.

And sadly, mixing of politics and religion in Malaysia is quite rampant.

Politics and religion are becoming inextricably intertwined. They can become a repelling wedge that generates a growing tension and division in one’s society. (The 20 Golden Rules for Salespersons, Author: Rowland H. Gomes, Page 37)

20 Golden Rules For Salespersons by Rowland Gomes

20 Golden Rules For Salespersons by Rowland Gomes

Kadazan Dusun girl, Jo-anna image by BennyLiew.com

Kadazan couple image by zuccar9

Dusun Lotud couple image by Remsauce

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7 Responses to Kadazan & Dusun Languages are becoming Extinct! (Shocking News!)
  1. Terry Thoo
    July 30, 2010 | 2:51 PM

    To start with – try to teach them as extracurricular subjects. Once the students know better and then with consensus of the people then get the final consensus should it be still taught in the school as a main subject . I am interested in Kadazan language after been in Sabah as a medical assistant for 7 yrs inclusive training till 1975. Good luck to your quest.


    Rowland Gomes Reply:

    @Terry Thoo,

    Thanks for the comment. I feel whatever is being done to teach this new-found language, it should have never been formed in the first place. My research shows that every Kadazan and Dusun person I have approached are very much against this decision and feel that the decision is detrimental.


  2. MissWences
    November 22, 2010 | 3:27 PM

    it is good to see our people still trying to conquer our dialects which is the kadazandusun. It is ‘eye-catching’ when seeing the Kadazan and Dusun been combine become KadazanDusun.

    I was shocked too when seeing my father birth certificate showing that he is kadazan but instead he is pure dusun, funny right? When i ask my dad whether dusun is a new tribe, he totally denied it. It is just that when Tun Fuad Stephens was the CM, he implement the kadazan as the main race for Pendaftaran. “my late grandpa ever told us,he said when he registered his children,come to race, they automatically put Kadazan in the paper since dusun is not declared yet in Pendaftaran”..funny right?

    in my birth cert. also stated kadazan yet i am dusun and i am proud to be dusun.

    My father is Dusun Tambunan and my mother is Dusun Kwujau (keningau), for your info, dusun kwujau speaks like kadazan . When im in tambunan i speak Dusun Tambunan and when im around my mother side,i speak like kadazan but it still dusun. explore the language before we come to such conclusion.

    book don’t clear, get some help from those people who speaks the language well then u will know the similarity.



  3. MissWences
    November 22, 2010 | 3:29 PM

    oh,another thing..No hard-feeling,better rectify than never right?
    Joanna Sue Henley Rampas is a Dusun.

    *have a nice day


    Rowland Gomes Reply:

    Very sorry for the rather late response. Thanks for the advice and suggestions. Sorry for the error…yes I am aware that Joanna is a Dusun. But my son, Charlton, wrongly typed in Kadazan. Sorry Joanna, if you are reading this. I am very close to Joanna’s parents. I flew with her pilot dad in a helicopter a few times. And I was her singing tutor. Take care.


  4. Jerome Moinin
    January 23, 2011 | 3:15 AM

    Hello again brother,

    I am pretty impressed with your efforts done herein. You could have informed me about this website, and I would have it save in my browser. Anyway….don’t give up in your quests…we need more people like you. Very few now left…that has high interest in preserving our heritage, particularly language.



    Rowland Gomes Reply:

    Thanks for your encouraging words Jerome. It is imperative for us to stick together, support and protect our culture and custom for the sake of our future generations. God Bless.


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