FEL 2020 grant: Documenting mumuh, traditional singing storytelling in Lun Bawang, Sarawak

This is the third in the series of reports on projects funded by FEL in 2020.

Overview. In many societies, storytelling has been the main method of transmitting knowledge inter-generationally. Mumuh is a traditional method of storytelling in the form of recited songs among the Lun Bawang people of Sarawak. Apart from the language itself being endangered, the performance of mumuh is also a dying art. After searching for singers, I was told that there is one elderly lady called Ina Ladu who lives in Long Semadoh settlement, Lawas division of Sarawak, East Malaysia, who is still able to sing mumuh. This project will document performances of mumuh with her. Note that mumuh contains not only a lesser-known form of melody but also archaic lexical items. The project will also train one local participant to continue recording other traditional songs and stories in Lun Bawang.

Grantee. This project is led by Jey Lingam Burkhardt.

Jey lectures in English and Communication Skills at the Centre for English Language Studies, Sunway University, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She received her MA in Applied Linguistics from Charles Darwin University, Australia, and has worked with language development projects in mother-tongue literacy, orthography development, and training of trainers among various minority language communities in Sarawak. Her research interests are Borneo studies, discourse analysis, language documentation and description, and self-regulated learning in higher education. She has recently co-authored a paper entitled Then and now: changes in social organisation and livelihood of the Berawan community since the formation of Malaysia.

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