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Thursday, March 7, 2013

MEMELIHARA BAHASA DAN BANGSA


Bahasa akan hilang jika tidak ada orang yang menggunakannya lagi sementara nama bangsa masih tetap tertulis seperti apa adanya.  Tapi apalah yang dimegahkan dengan nama bangsa jika bahasanya hilang lenyap sementara yang digunakan seharian adalah bahasa bangsa orang lain. Pepatah Melayu yang berbunyi "Bahasa menunjukkan bangsa" sedikit sebanyak ada pesanan agar mana-mana bangsa itu memelihara bahasa bangsanya dengan baik kerana itulah khazanah yang paling berharga di dunia ini.

Tepuk dada tanya selera. Apakah negara kita akan kehilangan khazanah tersebut di suatu masa yang terdekat nanti?


Beruntunglah mereka yang dapat menguasai banyak bahasa selain bahasa ibunda mereka sendiri kerana mereka mudah saja selesa berinteraksi dengan banyak masyarakat yang berbeza-beza di mana-mana.


Berikut senghaja penulis ambil lapuran penuh tanpa edit di dalam bahasa Inggeris yang diterbitkan oleh akhbar Brunei Times pada 30 Ogos 2010 dengan tajuk "Preserving a Fading Language" yang berpengertian tersendiri yang penulis kira ada kaitannya dengan bahasa Sang Jati Dusun di Negara Brunei Darussalam:




PRESERVING A FADING LANGUAGE

Finaz Daniel
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN


Monday, August 30, 2010

Language is by its very nature a tool for communications. It is one of Allah's (SWT) greatest gifts to mankind as a communications tool so that a strong and harmonious life can be achieved.

However, local dialects spoken in Brunei are fading fast. Bruneians who speak both indigenous Malay language and standard Malay are nowadays very few and far in between.

This trend should be a cause of concern as the fate of a number of dialects in the country are on the brink of extinction and will completely disappear in the future.

Bruneians have shifted away from many of the smaller languages to the more dominant ones. Of particular concern nowadays is how people seem to have preference over one language than the other, specifically English.


"We cease to become Malays if we fail to realise the importance of preserving our language. There are so many different dialects we possess but people are forgetting them now."

"The younger generation in particular are not even aware of some of them," said Hjh Noriah, 41, a local teacher.

Youths of the country tend to have a weakened attachment to the nation's language and dialects, which the older generation view as one of the nation's priceless possessions.

This trend has brought about the need to preserve the native tongue to prevent it from dying out with the older generation.

If this trend continues without action or intervention taken up from relevant authorities to preserve indigenous languages, the Puak Jati or indigenous languages face the possibility of outright extinction.

The status of language use in Brunei according to various media publications, both print and online, appear to only include the Malay and English languages. This has the effect of tourists and visitors to the country thinking that only these languages are spoken in Brunei.
In actuality, even with a small population, Brunei is a linguistically-diverse country with the indigenous Dusun, Bisaya, Murut, Tutong and Belait all speaking their own languages.

Aside from standard Malay, English and seven dialects of the Chinese language, there are 11 minority languages or dialects spoken in Brunei, namely Brunei Malay, Kedayan, Tutong, Belait, Dusun, Bisaya, Murut, Iban, Penan and Mukah.

With the exception of English, Malay and Mandarin, the other languages or dialects are to a greater or lesser extent threatened with extinction and are fast disappearing.

Some, like the Belait dialect, are on the verge of extinction. Other dialects are not faring well either with fewer of the younger generation speaking them, like Tutong or Dusun.

"These languages should be retained for future generations. Most of the young generation now are not aware of the minority languages."

"Some of my friends from Belait are not even aware that they have their own language," said Syazana Idris, 23, a technical college student whose family originally hails from Kuala Belait.
"Only a handful of speakers in Belait are able to speak the vocabulary of Belait Asli nowadays. Very few speak it at all and this is truly a shame. In fact, I only know of my own family and my extended family in Labi who still uses the language. It's refreshing to hear it and I feel better knowing that it hasn't died out in my family at the very least," she said.

Most of the minority languages speakers, in particular the young ones, have shifted away from using and appreciating their respective mother tongues. Some say that this could be due to their learning environment and their perception of the importance of the majority languages.

Although some effort has been made to preserve these dialects, not much has been done by ethnic groups to truly emphasise the use of the dialects, although it should be pointed out that these groups are still active in celebrating their traditional festivals.

The media has been the medium through which efforts have been made by authorities to maintain minority languages in Brunei, with a few dictionaries and stories published for Brunei Malay, Kedayan, Tutong and Belait.


"What has been done so far seems to be insufficient. If more effective measures are not implemented, most of the minority languages are doomed," said Hjh Noriah. "Even on the radio and television, the only languages we hear are Malay and Chinese."

The 41-year-old teacher went on to point out that governments of neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines teaches some of their minority languages as subjects in the school curriculum in an attempt to preserve minority languages.

"In this respect, minority languages should be made part of the school curriculum as means of preserving the ethnic groups' heritage," she said.

However, how minority groups perceive the importance of their own language and their desire to preserve the language should also be taken into account in order to make this goal a success.

"All ethnic groups, such as the Dusuns, should proactively take strategic steps in protecting their culture and language from extinction," added Hjh Noriah.

Furthermore, she said, the use of the minority languages should also be strongly supported outside the school as well. "It will not be successful if children only learn it in school."
"We should all defend the status of our native language in our homes so that we may pass down the knowledge from one generation to the next," she added.

Protecting national culture and heritage is in line with the proposals put forward by world bodies such as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Among the six billion people in the world, there are 6,800 languages spoken in 190 countries and regions. From that number, only 3,000 languages can be written, and the rest only exist in oral form and are already decreasing in speakers.




The Brunei Times


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