Saving Hulu T’ganu dialects


Language heritage: Hayati teaching Muhammad Khairul Bahari Abdullah, 11, to write words and phrases of Hulu Terengganu dialects at Kampung Tengkawang near Kuala Berang. — Bernama

KUALA BERANG: The more than 30 different dialects in Hulu Terengganu alone is what makes the district very unique, adding more dimensions to the country’s cultural heritage.

Hayati Ahmad, 46, a teacher involved in efforts to preserve dialects spoken in Hulu Terengganu, said residents in most villages in Hulu Terengganu speak different dialects even though the villages are less than a kilometre apart.

“The uniqueness of the dialects is in the way it is spoken and the use of the words. In some villages, the same word is spoken in a softer tone, while in some villages, it may sound harsh.

“For example, the word ‘ulu’. The people of Kuala Berang pronounced the word as ‘ulu’, while villagers in Kampung Tengkawang pronounced it as ‘ulou’, ‘uluk’ for residents in Kampung Nibong and in Kampung Baung the pronunciation is ‘olou’ which sounds softer.

Such a pronunciation applies to all words ending with the letter ‘u’, ” she said recently.

Hayati, who teaches Bahasa Melayu at SMK Seri Berang here, also said not many residents of Hulu Terengganu can differentiate the way the word is pronounced by residents in the various villages in the district.

“For example, the dragonfly is known as ‘ca’i’ by the people in Kampung Tengkawang, while in Kampung Pauh it is called ‘klica’ and in other villages, some call the dragonfly ‘ssibu’ and ‘ciibi’.

“This is difficult, especially for the young generation to understand, ” she added.

Afraid that the dialects used by people in Hulu Terengganu would become extinct, Hayati, affectionately known as Cikgu Yati, has taken several initiatives to preserve them.

“I always perform poem or pantun recitals in school and do that in the Hulu Terengganu dialect.

“There is a video on my poem recital performance which has been uploaded on social media and it has attracted many viewers because of the dialect.

She is also involved in producing a glossary on the Hulu Terengganu dialect, a project carried out by former Kuala Berang Assemblyman Datuk Tengku Putera Tengku Awang.

“My hope is that the young generation will continue to love the dialect of our ancestors, which they should be proud of because that is our identity and it needs to be preserved, ” she said. — Bernama

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