Dictionary of Eastern Penan
by Ian Mackenzie

The Eastern Penan language is spoken by approximately ten thousand people in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the Island of Borneo. This work is the first attempt to fully describe the language.
The Penan Dictionary is a project that I embarked on in 1994. It is a continuing effort, and every year I gather more data in the field and enlarge, refine, and correct my text. As of 2010 I have accumulated more than ten thousand entries, each of which describes a word taken in one of its senses, or a fully-fledged idiom. In addition, there are about six thousand collocations (i.e. idiomatic or semi-idiomatic combinations). The text of the dictionary proper, which includes numerous examples, consists of approximately eight hundred thousand words.
In addition to the dictionary, I have created an English - Penan index, as well as a basic grammar of the language.
This is a new kind of dictionary, making use as it does of some of the formalisms of a lexicographic model known as the Explanatory-Combinatorial dictionary . It is above all a production dictionary, that is a tool that assists its user to produce well-formed texts of the Penan language, rather than just interpret existing texts.
The dictionary remains a work in progress. However, beginning in about 1996 I have been making available copies of the latest version of my manuscript to various interested persons.
Here are three sample entries from the dictionary.
§ ipa I § -- ipa [tong] X Y jin Z || ipa jin Z tong X Y n = ‘Z ‘s reply to request or question X , voiced by Y’ + ha’ ipa X jin Y ‘answer from Y to request [voiced in] X’ + [ha’] ipa éh li’eu ‘tardy answer’ + [ha’] ipa éh laho ‘prompt answer’ + Z maneu ha’ ipa [tong] X Y ‘Z makes or issues a reply to Y’s request voiced in X’ + Y mena [ha’] ipa X jin Z ‘Y awaits a reply from Z to Y ‘s request voiced in X’ | Avé hun iteu bé’ pu’un ipa jin peritah tong surat mé’. = Avé hun iteu bé’ pu’un ipa tong surat mé’ jin peritah. ‘Up until now there has been no reply from the government to our letter.’ Amé mena ipa jin peritah. = Amé mena ha’ ipa jin peritah. ‘We are waiting for the government’s answer.’ Amé mena ipa surat jin peritah. ‘We are waiting for the government to reply to the letter.’ Amé mena ha’ ipa surat mé’ rai jin peritah. ‘We are waiting for the government’s reply to our letter (that we have sent).’ Ha’ ipa jin peritah li’eu mu’un. ‘The answer from the government was very tardy .’ Peritah bé’ juk maneu ha’ ipa [tong] surat mé’. ‘The government does not want to issue a reply to our letter.’
§ jaji 2 § -- jaji X ngan Y juk V n = ‘promise of X to Y that X will V’ + X pu’un jaji ngan Y juk V ‘X has made a promise with Y to V’ + jaji X éh tatu’ ‘X ‘s firm promise’ + jaji X éh petem ‘X ‘s firm promise’ + ha’ jaji X V ‘X ‘s stated promise to V’ + X bet jaji ‘X breaks a promise’ + X ngelapah jaji ‘X breaks a promise’ + X kivu jaji ‘X keeps a promise’ + X teneng tong jaji ‘X does as X promises’ (including ‘X comes when X promises X will’) + X maneu jaji ngan Y ‘X makes a promise with Y’ + ha’ jaji X ngan Y ‘X ‘s stated promise to Y’ + X pepiso ha’ jaji X ngan Y ‘X alters X ‘s promise to Y’ + X pepiso ha’ X tong jaji X ngan Y ‘X alters X’s promise to Y’ + pu’un X tong jaji X ‘X sticks to X ‘s promise’ + bé’ avé tong jaji X N Y ‘before the promised period of N Y set by X has elapsed’ | Pu’un ku’ maneu jaji ngan rételeu inah. ‘I have made a promise with those three.’ La’ah akeu kivu jaji ké’ ngan ko’ rai. ‘Then I will keep the promise I made to you.’ Bé’ éh omok pepiso ha’ néh tong jaji néh ngan redo inah uban iah maneu éh ngan ha’ supa néh. ‘He could not change his word as far as his promise to that woman was concerned because he had made it under oath.’ Bé’ éh omok pepiso ha’ jaji néh ngan redo inah uban iah maneu éh ngan ha’ supa néh. ‘He could not alter his promise to that woman because he had made it under oath.’ Kelé da’ pu’un éh tong jaji néh sagam nah. ‘Let’s see if he really holds to his promise tomorrow.’ Kio pu’un Balang tong jaji néh sagam. ‘I think Balang will keep his promise tomorrow (e.g. to come).’ Ma’o inah bé’ avé tong jaji balei iri’ pat laséh nah, avé jah laséh vevilang keruah, pu’un duah redo éh poho lua’ Katen. ‘But long before those promised four months had elapsed, after the moon had run its course but one time and a half, there came two women from Katen’s community.’
§ mihin 2 § -- X mihin Y [ngan X ] jin Z tai W / nihin vb = ‘X brings, leads or guides Y [with X] from Z to W—Y being able to travel independently of X’ + X mihin Y ngan pengelakau éh jian ‘X carefully leads Y’ + X mihin Y kivu X ‘X leads or takes Y along with X’ | Iah mihin uleu. ‘He is guiding us.’ Iah mihin akeu ngan pengelakau éh jian. ‘He led me carefully.’ Jian ke’ seruh jian jian, mai ke’ mihin anak ké’ iteu tai sinah kepéh. ‘Be careful not to take my son back there.’ Iah mihin kekat réh ngan néh molé kepéh. ‘She brought all of them back with her.’ Akeu mihin ka’au masek lamin ké’. ‘I invite you into my house.’ Boh réh mihin Awang Item kivu réh. ‘So they took Awang Item along with them.’ syn patet

Here are some more excerpts from the dictionary.