Local Kelabit talents preserve endangered language through bilingual children’s books

Author Lilian Lipang Bulan (second left) presenting copies of the book to Dennis (second right) during the launching ceremony while president of Rurum Kelabit Sarawak Dato Dr Philip Raja (left), author David Lian Labang (centre), and Sarah look on.

KUCHING, Dec 19: Local Kelabit talents are making an effort to preserve their endangered language by publishing three first-of-its-kind bilingual Kelabit-English children’s books.

According to Sceptre Seven Press in a statement today, the books, which launched recently in Miri, aimed to preserve the native tongue to be embraced for generations to come.

The project is supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak (MTCP) and funded by The Arts, Culture and Heritage Facilitation Fund.


The books titled ‘Anun Inih Lem Bubuh Tepu’? (What Is Inside Grandpa’s Fishtrap?) by David Lian Labang; Doo’ Ribed Kijan! (Kijan Is Beautiful!) by Lillian Lipang Bulan and David Lian Labang; and Inih Lun Ruyung Kudih! (This Is My Family!) by Sarah Lois Dorai and Lillian Lipang Bulan, capture the simplicity of life in Bario.

Speaking during the launching event, the chairman of the Sarawak Tourism Board, Dennis Ngau, said the use of the Kelabit language has declined over the years and has now been classified by UNESCO as an endangered language.

“By awarding this grant to preserve the Kelabit language, especially through children’s books, the Ministry can further empower and protect the diversity of culture, heritage, and languages of the people of Sarawak,” he added.

The three first Kelabit-English bilingual children’s Books.

Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department (Labour, Immigration and Project Monitoring) Datuk Gerawat Gala also supported the publication by sponsoring 100 sets to be donated to SMK Bario, SK Bario, Perpustakaan Majlis Daerah Bario, SK Pa’ Dalih, SK Long Banga, SK Long Seridan, SK Long Lellang, Rurum Kelabit Sarawak, and the Sarawak State Library.

Led by Sarah Lois Dorai, the grant proprietor, creative director and publisher, the project took six months to complete — from gathering writers to the printing of 500 copies per title, of which 50 sets will be made available in select libraries across Sarawak by MTCP.

The books can be purchased from Sceptre Seven Press’ Instagram shop (@sceptresevenpress) from Dec 20 onwards. — DayakDaily