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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Some background info on the alphabet

In 1947 Dunging invented 77 characters/symbols representing phonological sounds in the Iban language. His alphabet was taught to a few of his nephews while the rest of the people in his community were too illiterate to appreciate the significance of his alphabet then. Undaunted by the poor response from the surrounding community, Dunging kept at revising and refining his alphabet until after almost 15 years he managed to discard some overlapping and redundant characters. He finally managed to revise the alphabet from 77 to 59 characters in 1962. Dunging was once invited by some colonial officers to teach his alphabet system to the Iban public in Betong. through formal education. His effort was unfortunately short-lived as he was not in agreement with some of the terms stipulated on his alphabet teaching. He left and the whole school for the alphabet was scrapped. Ever since then, the alphabet eventually disappeared into oblivion even though there had been some effort to revive it, nonetheless, all efforts seemed to fizzle away. Dunging's adopted son, Mr. Bagat Nunui however managed to put whatever was left together into an unpublished manuscript in 1990. It was only later that the alphabet was revived and revitalised by Dr. Bromeley Philip to salvage it from disappearing with times.

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