Monday, August 10

Last of the Sihans

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Beside their mother tongue, the Sihans also speak other languages, especially the lingua franca of the Balui valley Kenyah. In addition, they speak varying amounts of Malaya, Iban, Punan, Lahanan, Baketan and Kajang.

According to Maxwell, some consider Sihan language more difficult to learn than those of the Kayan, Kenyah, Penan and other groups in the area.

“One man with a wide experience among the groups thought that the Sihan language was most closely related to Bhuket, Punan Busang, Baketan and Bunan Bah,” he explained.

Maxwell concluded that the Sihans were one of the least known people of Sarawak as they were not a large group and their number would appear to have contracted somewhat since the time of Hugh Brooke Low (1882).

“Thus, there is a certain amount of urgency to try to record as much of their traditions and lifestyle as possible lest they go the way of numerous other peoples of Sarawak such as the Bakan, the Lepu Wun, the Seru, the Siduan and others who have long disappeared and about whom little or nothing at all is known.”

In other words, the future of the Sihans now lies in the younger generation to carry on the struggle and survival of their almost extinct tribe.

Hopefully, with a young population and better settlement, the Sihans will survive and thrive alongside the other races in Sarawak.

Here are some basic vocabularies of the Sihans

1. Father – ama
2. Mother – Ino
3. Wife – awo
4. Husband – hanhen
5. Aunt – mine’
6. Uncle- mame’
7. Older sibling – ye
8. Younger sibling – arin
9. Child – nyarak
10. Grandchild – nyahu
11. Man – ale
12. Woman – oro
13. To eat – kaman
14. To drink – miup
15. Fire- apui
16. Fish – ajen
17. Flower – buna
18. Fruit- bua
19. Good – jian
20. Grass – uru
21. air- ibu
22. Hand – lono
23. Head – ulu
24. To hear – kelano
25. Heart – besuo
26. Mouth – baba
27. Name – naro
28. Nose – urun
29. Laugh – mohon
30. Wind – belasi
31. Wing – ilat
32. Stone – batu
33. Year – duman
34. Night – malom

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