13 May 2010

of katama, kouyu and kabaya: the changing Dusun language

When one doesn't have the right language input, one uses words in "colourful" ways. Well sometimes to the annoyance of the language prescriptivists. There are three Dusun words that I notice my brother keeps using in different ways than I think they should. These words are:

katama (dare in the sense of "scared")

kouyu (dare in the sense of "shy")

kabaya (has the time to do something)

In Dusun one of the purposes ko- is added to a word is to show ability.

My brother, being a member of the 90s Dusun generation who speaks very "limited" Dusun at home (sorry 90s generation), would say things like:

1. amu oku ka kouyu (I do not dare)

when what he really means is

2. amu oku kabaya ( I do not have the time (to do something))

(I can't really blame him, as his generation is really the changed generation; the generation whose parents or elder siblings are of the transition generation (from traditional to modern) and speak more Malay/English at home.)

I wonder what will happen after all Dusun speakers of my parents' or my generation have died :-) Either Dusun won't be spoken anymore, which I think won't be the case since most Dusuns are quite patriotic about their heritage, or Dusun would be spoken as a different language. Most likely...


Dido Athens said...

okon boh daa "amu oku ka kouyu" kangku dii..au oku kouyu...miakakakka

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Verone, love these handicrafts. I have always loved anything from Sarawak, include the women too, ha ha.
Drop by my place when free...have something interesting for you. Have a nice day and keep a song in your heart, Lee.