26 February 2012

"Your bag will get anted"

My daughter had to bring sugar, asam boi powder and guava for her fruit preservation project at school. I prepared the items for her on Wednesday night, put them in a small shopping bag and she was all set. The next day she came home beaming, telling me that the project went well and they (the class pupils) could eat the preserved fruits on Friday. As Friday was a busy day for me, I forgot to remind her to take out the remains of her project items from the bag, and as expected she forgot to do it.

On Saturday, when I finally remembered, I asked her about it. When she admitted having forgotten to put the sugar back in the kitchen, I exclaimed "your bag will get anted", and surprisingly she didn't find the sentence funny. Later she asked me, "Mom, why did you say 'get anted'? Don't you know that 'ant' is a noun?". I laughed and told her the way I think must be becoming more and more Dusun. In Dusun you can almost use every root word as a noun or a verb, depending on how you phrase it. English does that too to a certain extent, like - this is a house, and this building can house 500 persons.

Oh well, I just finished rewriting the two teaching modules that UMS uses for Kadazandusun Levels 1 and 3. That must have affected me more than I realized that my English is starting to sound Dusun. Anyway, I like it that my daughter has this kind of language awareness...perhaps I can still hope that one day she would be able to speak Dusun fluently.

11 February 2012

Metaphorically speaking- body parts

By now when a member of the community says a sundait (riddle) that conjures up an erotic image, I no longer blush. Being much older (and wiser? :)), I decided that I can take it. But long time ago when I was a growing child, one of the most awkward moments was to hear people say such sundaits. Nowadays, I can appreciate the clever ways of language play using body parts that the Dusun people use in their riddles.

I suddenly came across some of them as I was reading a book called Warisan Budaya Sabah: Etnisiti dan Masyarakat, and feel compelled to share them here. Mind you, if you are used to people using polite language all the time, you might experience a minor shock attack as you read some of these!

Sundait 1-

Wangkangonku gakod nu, posuangonku watangku, osonong opurimanan.
(I spread your legs, I enter my log, oh how wonderful)
Answer: Spectacles

Sundait 2-

Kitundu-undu o tulu-
(There's a heart on top of the head)
Answer: Banana blossom

Sundait 3-
Aiso kabang aiso busul
(No mouth, no anus)
Answer: Leech

Sundait 4-
Osodu ko po om rubaon ko do tulang
(From a distance, bone meets you)
Answer: Teeth

Sundait 5-
Milapus-lapus kito, mitirung-tirung kito, au kopikito nga kopilapus
(We penetrate each other, we hide from each other, unable to see (each other) but still able to penetrate each other)
Answer: Ears

Sundait 6-
Iso tulu, onom hakod, kombit-kombiton yi odu-odu yi aki-aki
(One head, six legs, strummed by the grandmothers and the grandfathers)
Answer: Tongkungon (a musical instrument)

Sundait 7:
"Tik" ka llo mantik, panakalamou poo
("Tik", the 'mantik' slides on the thigh)
Answer: Matches

Sundait 8:
Monguni susu di odu
(Grandmother's breast produces sound)
Answer: Sompoton (a type of musical instrument)

Sundait 9:
Iduon garung, okito hulu. Iduon hulu, okito tonsi. Iduon tonsi, okito puun.
(Take off the clothes, the hair is seen. Remove the hair, the flesh is seen. Remove the flesh, the stem is seen)
Answer: Corn

Sundait 10:
Poingundul o tonsilot.
(The clitoris is erected)
Answer: Tobacco chew

(These sundaits are courtesy of Mr Lokman Abdul Samad, a colleague at UMS-translation, my own and the mistakes are all mine!)

If you ask me if I am good at this kind of language, I'd have to humbly admit that I don't. (Once, the hubby said "you are supposed to be good at this" but how can I when I did not grow up in that environment?) I wish I am. As most aspects of the culture slip through my fingers, the only thing I can do now is to appreciate and keep what little I know...