A language of Malaysia

Alternate Names
Dayak Laut, Dusun Dayak, Kadazan, Melobong Rungus, Melubong Rungus, Memagun, Memogun, Roongas, Rungus Dusun

55,000 (2009 PCS), decreasing. 10,000 monolinguals (2015 P. Porodong, F. Akiam). Ethnic population: 60,000 (2010 census).


Sabah: Beluran, Kota Marudu, Kudat, and Pitas districts.

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened).


Gandahon, Gonsomon, Nuluw, Pilapazan (Central Rungus, Rungus Tanga). Gonsomon and Nuluw most distinctive dialects. Gandahon is less distinct. Pilapazan uses elements of the other three dialects. Lexical similarity among dialects within 86%–96%.



Language Use

90% L1 speakers. Mixed use: Home, Friends, Religion, Work. Some young people, all adults. Positive attitudes. Most also use Sabah Malay [msi]. Some also use Standard Malay [zsm]. A few also use Hakka Chinese [hak], Iranun [ilm], Kadazan Dusun [dtp], Kimaragang [kqr], Tombonuo [txa]. Used as L2 by Hakka Chinese [hak], Iranun [ilm], Kadazan Dusun [dtp], Kimaragang [kqr], Tombonuo [txa].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 80%. Literacy rate in L2: 85% in Standard Malay [zsm]. Literacy rate in L1: low for those over 45; much higher for those under 30. Literacy in L2: Standard Malay [zsm] literacy higher than Rungus; school language is Standard Malay. Language of instruction in about 5 kindergartens. Literature. Radio. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. Bible: 2014. Agency: Persatuan Momogun Rungus Sabah (SAMORA), Rungus Cultural Association (RCA), Sabah Rungus Cultural and Heritage (SARUCHA), Persatuan Rungus Pitas (PISAAN), Pertubuhan Rungus Malaysia, Yayasan Rungus (Rungus Foundation).


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Reside on the Bengkoka and Kudat peninsulas surrounding Marudu bay and identify themselves by which side of the bay they come from. Self-identify as Momogun and have complex internal social and ethnic relationships (Appell 1965). There is a strong sense of Rungus ethnic identity across all dialect groups. Christian, Muslim, traditional religion.

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