28 October 2011

Why oh why?

Sometimes I get so used to reading Dusun news items translated from Malay that I forgot to react when I see that the sentence structures look more Malay than Dusun. Other times when I am in my Kadazandusun teacher-mode, I feel quite upset and wish that writers are more aware of what they are doing. But then again, no one of the current working Kadazan/Dusun people ever did learn Kadazan/Dusun grammar in school so I can't really blame them, can I?

Somehow it still bothers me. When someone decided that s/he would become a Kadazan/Dusun journalist, I believe s/he should be aware that a Kadazan/Dusun sentence begins with a verb, not a 'subject' (or whatever the elements are called). Unless of course the 'subject' is brought to the front, and followed by 'nopo nga' that functions like 'ialah/adalah' in Malay or the copular be in English. Even then it would still need to be followed by further information for the subject.

So "The people are happy" should be
Ounsikou (state verb) i(determiner) tongoulun(person.plural)

or tongoulun nopo nga ongounsikou... (the people are happy...) followed by further information

tongoulun(person.plural) ounsikou (happy)

The thing is, I see more and more of this careless way of writing nowadays. People don't seem to make the effort of appreciating the natural elements of the language they are using, and to me it's sad. Or could it be because boundaries between languages living side by side are getting more blurred?

(Note: This is written during one of my grumpy moods. Must be due to reading too many awkward KD sentences)

03 October 2011

A little gift goes a long way

Today I silently thank Rev. Fr. Bruno of the Ranau Catholic Parish for having given me a Dusun bible some years ago. It was the time I started getting serious in my Bundu Dusun language analysis to aid my understanding of how the language works in order to create better teaching and learning materials for the students.(The work continues on, although there have been a lot of halts along the way.)

Many might think what has a bible got to do with this? But it actually does a lot for me. I especially realize it today when I was translating some personality quiz materials for my students to try out in the classroom. (God knows a language classroom without elements of fun in it can 'kill' the teacher and students!). Many words in the personality test, as expected, are adjectives describing people. Needless to say, it is so difficult to find the equivalents in Dusun.

I was giving up on the translation when I remembered to look in the bible. I thought if I typed in the words I was looking for in the online bible website, I'd be able to check them in the dusun bible. I took it from the shelf, and started my project. True enough, words such as 'loving, gentle and kind' are shown in many verses and I was able to check them up in the Dusun bible. Who would have thought that the word 'gentle' that I was still not able to translate after an hour was easily found?(and it's 'alamaya' by the way)

My self-lesson today: never take religious texts for granted. Even if you are not reading them to 'hear the words of God', you can certainly learn languages from them, the way the languages are used by the community .

My next target is to get my hands on the Islamic hadis translation in Dusun. I think there has to be one, because I used to hear the Friday sermon (khutbah Jumaat) being read in the Dusun radio station. It would be interesting to see how the two religious communities speaking the same language translate the language.

Thank you Fr. Bruno. You have given me a gift that I would be able to use in many areas of my life.