Dunging’s Legacy: The Iban Alphabet


For those interested to purchase the font can get it from http://www.linguistsoftware.com/liban.htm

Mr. Bromeley Phillip, a lecturer of Linguistics in UiTM Sarawak is currently teaching on the usage of this Iban alphabet. You can check out his SACRED Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sacred/182482625216196?ref=profile

Dunging Anak Gunggu (1904-1985)

Born and Died at:
Nanga Ulai LongHouse, Debak Sub-District,
Betong Division, Sarawak
East Malaysia.

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 Bagat Nunui however managed to put whatever was left together into an unpublished manuscript in 1990.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.

– Taken from ibanalaphabet.blogspot.com by Bromeley Philip

An Iban Language Forum was organised to discuss the future of the proposed alphabet with a Windows Font coming out soon from Linguist Software called LaserIban for Windows.

It remains to be seen what the future holds and how will it appeal to mainstream Iban language educators.


6 thoughts on “Dunging’s Legacy: The Iban Alphabet

  1. sama bala rumah panjai enggau niang ini aku kelia Mr.Dunging tu. Yet, still you can find the original alphabets carves on one of the house pillars in rumah panjai Ng.Ulai..cheers..

What say you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s