KUCHING (Bernama) – The Sarawak Government has approved a RM300,000 grant to the state branch of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) to begin preservation work on five indigenous languages categorised as ‘endangered’.
State tourism minister, Datuk Amar Abang Johari said DBP had recorded that the Narum, Sihan, Lahanan, Bukitan and Seru languages were under the endangered category.
He said the languages were slowly dying out due to the influence of predominant languages such as Bahasa Malaysia and English.
“I have mentioned about these languages, as well as the Penan (language). A lot of these languages are so much synonymous to the ethnic groups,” he said at a press conference after officiating an International Conference of Asian Language Processing 2014 held yesterday.
According to Abang Johari, language researchers needed to reach out to these ethnic groups who resided in the interior or remote areas of Sarawak, in order to build up the vocabulary of the endangered languages.
Earlier in his speech at the ceremony, he noted that local languages played a strategic role in the development of tourism, which had become one of the most important industries globally.
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Vice-Chancellor, Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said the university and the Chinese and Oriental Languages Information Processing Society were jointly organising the three-day conference which ends on Wednesday.
Researchers from China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are taking part in the event.