Kadazandusun language

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Central Dusun
Boros Dusun
Native toMalaysia, Brunei
RegionSabah, Labuan
EthnicityDusun people, Kadazan people
Native speakers
(140,000 Central Dusun cited 1991)[1]
100,000 ethnic population other dialects (1981–2000)[1][may need to subtract 15k Sugut and Minokok]
Language codes
ISO 639-3dtp

Central Dusun, also known as Bunduliwan (Dusun: Boros Dusun), is one of the more widespread languages spoken by the Dusun (including Kadazan) peoples of Sabah, Malaysia.

Kadazandusun language standardization[edit]

Under the efforts of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association Sabah, the standardized Kadazan-Dusun language is of the central Bundu-Liwan dialect spoken in Bundu and Liwan valleys of the Crocker Range (now parts of the present-day districts of Ranau, Tambunan and Keningau). Dusun Bundu-liwan's selection was based on it being the most mutually intelligible, when conversing with other Dusun or Kadazan dialects.[3]

Alphabet and pronunciation[edit]

The Dusun-Kadazan language is written using the Latin alphabet and it has 22 characters (the letters C, E, F, Q, and X are not used except in loanwords):


These characters together are called Pimato.


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative s h
Nasal m n ŋ
Rhotic r
Lateral l
Approximant w j

Semivowels /w j/ and rhotic /r/ only occur in most of the other dialects of the Dusun/Kadazan languages. Forschner (1978) and Antonissen (1958) list two fricatives /v z/ for the Rungus and Penampang Kadazan dialects. [x] is also listed as an allophone of /k/ in word-medial position.[4]


The vowels are divided into:

Simple vowels: /i u a o/

Diphthongs: aa ai (sometimes pronounced /e/) ii oi uu

Forschner (1978) notes for the Rungus dialect that the phoneme /e/ is a contraction of the diphthongs /ai/ or /oi/.

Some combinations of vowels do not form diphthongs and each vowel retains its separate sound: ao ia iu ui ue. In some words aa is not a diphthong, and this is indicated by an apostrophe between the two vowels: a’a.


The Dusun phrase structure follow a different pattern since the normal English SUBJECT – VERB – OBJECT structure is non-existent in the Dusun construction. A typical Dusun sentence follows the VERB – SUBJECT – OBJECT structure.

of languages
SOV "She him loves." 45% 45
Japanese, Latin, Turkish
SVO "She loves him." 42% 42
English, Mandarin, Russian
VSO "Loves she him." 9% 9
Biblical Hebrew, Irish, Zapotec
VOS "Loves him she." 3% 3
Malagasy, Baure
OVS "Him loves she." 1% 1
Apalaí?, Hixkaryana?
OSV "Him she loves." 0% Warao

Frequency distribution of word order in languages
surveyed by Russell S. Tomlin in 1980s.[5][6]


Dusun sentence: Monginum isio do montoku.

Direct English translation: Drink him rice wine.

English interpretation: He is drinking rice wine.

Dusun sentence: Nunu maan nu do suab?

Direct English translation: What do you tomorrow?

English interpretation: "What are you doing tomorrow?" or to a lesser extent, "Are you doing anything tomorrow?"


The following table is a comparison of lexical terms in English, Dusun and the Malay language.

English Dusun Malay
zero aiso kosong/sifar
one iso satu
two duo dua
three tolu tiga
four apat empat
five limo lima
six onom enam
seven turu tujuh
eight walu lapan
nine siam sembilan
ten hopod sepuluh
eleven hopod om iso sebelas
twenty duo nohopod dua puluh
hundred hatus/sahatus ratus/seratus
two hundreds duo nahatus dua ratus
thousand ribu/soribu ribu/seribu
five thousands limo noribu lima ribu
million laksa/liong juta
billion bilion bilion

For example: tolu noribu duo nahatus walu nohopod om siam (3289)

Name of the Months[edit]

English Dusun
January Milatok
February Mansak
March Gomot
April Ngiop
May Mikat
June Mahas
July Madas
August Magus
September Manom
October Gumas
November Milau
December Momuhau

Names of the days of the week[edit]

The names for the days of the week are mostly based on a simple numerical sequence, which is commonly used for media and newspapers. Sometimes Dusun names for the days come from the seven stages in the metamorphosis of butterfly, which is commonly taught in school syllabus and literature purpose.

English Dusun
Dusun Name Numerical
Monday Tontolu Tadau koiso
Tuesday Mirod Tadau koduo
Wednesday Tadtaru Tadau kotolu
Thursday Kurudu Tadau kaapat
Friday Madsa Tadau kolimo
Saturday Kukuak Tadau koonom
Sunday Tiwang Tadau koturu/minggu

Five Ws and one H (Interrogatives)[edit]

English Dusun Malay
What Onu/Nu/Nunu Apa
Who Isai Siapa
Whose/Whom Disai Siapa punya
Where Hinonggo/Honggo Di mana
When Soira Bila
Why Nokuro Kenapa
How Poingkuro Bagaimana
How many Piro/Songkuro Berapa

Personal pronouns[edit]

Personal pronouns in Dusun are determined by their use in the sentence. There are emphatic subject, non-emphatic subject, possessive and accusative. Dusun has separate words for inclusive and exclusive we, and distinguishes singular, dual, and plural.

English Dusun
Subject Possessive Accusative/Object
Emphatic Non-emphatic
I Yoku/Yoho Oku Ku Doho/Dogo
You Ika/Iya Ko Nu Dika/Diya
He/She/It Isio/Iyau Disio/Dau
We (exclusive) Yahai Dahai
We (two persons) Ikito Kito To' Ditto
We (inclusive) Itokou/Tokou Dotokou
You (plural) Ikoyu/Yokoyu Kou Dikoyu/Dokoyu
They Iyolo Diyolo/Diolo


Genesis 1:1-3[edit]

Ontok di timpuun ih, tuminimpuun o Kinorohingan do minomonsoi do libabou om pomogunan. Orolot iti pomogunan om inggaa suang, om pointuong nokulumutan di rahat topuhod. Mintulud sunduan do Kinorohingan do hiri id soibau di waig. Om pomoros nodi o Kinorohingan do, "Nawau no" ka. Om haro nodi o tanawau. Om asanangan tomod o Kinorohingan do nokokitoh diri. Pitongkiado no do Kinoingan ih tanawau do mantad hiri id totuong. Om pungaranai nodi do Kinorohingan do "dangadau" it anawau, om iri otuong nopo nga pinungaranan dau do "dongotuong". Haro di sosodopon, sinusuhut minsusuab – iri no o tadau kumoiso.


In the beginning God created heaven and earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The spirit of God was hovering over the water. Then God said, "Let there be light!" So there was light. God saw the light was good. So God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light "day", and the darkness he named "night". There was evening, then morning, the first day.


  1. ^ a b Central Dusun at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Dusunic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Kadazandusun Cultural Association. "Official dialect" Archived 2008-10-06 at the Wayback Machine. 11 April 1995.
  4. ^ Miller, Carolyn (1993). Phonological descriptions of Sabah languages : Studies from Ten Languages, Bonggi, Ida'an, Kadazan/Dusun, Kalabuan, Kimaragang, Labuk-Kinabatangan Kadazan, Lotud, Tagal, Tatana', Tombonuwo. Kadazan/Dusun Phonology Revisited.
  5. ^ Introducing English Linguistics International Student Edition by Charles F. Meyer
  6. ^ Russell Tomlin, "Basic Word Order: Functional Principles", Croom Helm, London, 1986, page 22
  • Tangit, Trixie M. (2005). Planning Kadazandusun (Sabah, Malaysia): labels, identity, and language (MA thesis). University of Hawaii at Manoa. hdl:10125/11691.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links[edit]