Happy 50th Anniversary, Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka

(Please see Kamus Dewan moved for latest updates.)

While I have to admit I have not used products and services of DBP for a very long time already, I still have fond memories of typing word entries from Kamus Dewan into a text file and wrote some Unix scripts to feed LaTeX so that I could typeset a Malay crossword puzzle “dictionary”. This was more than 15 years ago when I was an undergraduate in the US. It was basically a listing of words categorized by their lengths, ordered in forward and reverse directions. It possibly had some other features I could not remember already. I made it because my parents were very much into doing the crossword puzzles in Berita Harian. There was some serious prize money involved. Had they won something, I would have been eternally indebted to DBP for sure. And my parents would have felt the same way too.
Recently, I found out that DBP has ventured into the cyberspace. We could now find out the meaning of a Malay word online through Karyanet. Karyanet’s charter is mainly to provide a mechanism for writers to publish Malay writings. The online Kamus Dewan is a bonus. More recently, I found another bonus: the Pantun (rhyme) repository. You could search a pantun to surprise the love of your life, for example. You may also want to sharpen up your peribahasa (idioms).

On its 50th anniversary (it was established on June 22, 1956), I think it should grab the Internet bull by the horn with a vengeance. Blogging is obviously the in-thing now. DBP should host blogs from the language experts and novices alike. Their dictionaries should be more like what is offered by, say, the Merriam-Webster online. They should provide e-mail services like word-of-the-day or even pantun-of-the-day. Alternatively, maybe the ability to add a word- or a pantun-of-the-day as a content in a Personalized Google page would be cool thing to have.

DBP has offered a lot and still has a lot to offer. There is no question that DBP is still relevant as the purveyor of the Malay language. Now could somebody tell me why it is called “Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka” and not “Dewan dan Pustaka Bahasa”?


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