253-page book highlighting Bakong language culmination of 20 years of research

Abang Haliman (fourth left) presents a token of appreciation to Marliney after the book launching ceremony.

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By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, March 27: A 253-page book featuring a glossary of 3,210 words of the ‘Ideah’ Bakong or the Bakong ethnic group was launched today, after 20 years of relentless effort and collecting data by researchers.

The book was launched by Beluru district administrating officer Marliney Igil representing Deputy Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government I (Public Health and Housing) Datu Dr Penguang Manggil.

Bakong is thought to be one of the oldest spoken languages in Sarawak. The book titled ‘Daftar Kata Bahasa Bakong-Bahasa Melayu’ or a Bakong-Malay glossary, is a collaborative effort between Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) and the Ideah Bakong Miri Community Association (Piba or Persatuan Masyarakat Ideah Bakong Miri) to nurture and preserve the language.

The Bakong community settled in the Beluru district as early as a century ago.

Currently, there are about 800 members of the Bakong community residing in Kampung Melayu Beluru, Bakong.

Penguang in his speech text which was read out by Marliney said that the State governmet is always committed to and supportive of any effort to preserves ethnic languages, including the Bakong language via publishing books to ensure that these languages are properly documented for future references.

“We want to ensure that the Bakong language is not lost along the way,” he said.

At the event, it was revealed that Penguang has pledged to a Minor Rural Project (MRP) grant worth RM10,000 to Piba to assist them with their activities.

Meanwhile, earlier on, DBP Sarawak director Abang Haliman Abang Julai gave his assurance that this effort to documenting an ethnic language in Sarawak would not the last, as DBP will continue to conduct research and document ethnic languages in the State.

“It’s a continuous effort by DBP to preserve ethnic languages and the Bakong language is not excluded,” he pointed out.

On the book launching, Melayu Bakong community leader Penghulu Abdullah Samat described the book as an eye-opener especially for the younger generation of the Bakong community.

“Most of the young generation of today’s Bakong community are not able to speak the language well, and this probably is because of mixed marriages which may have contributed to the language (use) shift in their homes,” he opined.

Concerned that their young generation might lose touch with their ethnic identity, he also expressed his hope that this book would help preserve their heritage. — DayakDaily