Day: September 18, 2017

The Indonesian Language

The Indonesian Language

[pic] |Bahasa Indonesia: The Indonesian Language |  | |   |by | | |[pic] |Dr George Quinn | | |[pic] |Head, Southeast Asia Centre, | | |[pic] |Faculty of Asian Studies, | | |[pic] |Australian National University | | |[pic] |What Is Indonesian? | | |[pic] |Indonesian is a 20th century name for Malay. Depending on how you define a language and| | |[pic] |how you count its number of speakers, today Malay-Indonesian ranks around sixth or | | |[pic] |seventh in size among the world’s languages. With dialect variations it is spoken by | | |[pic] |more than 200 million people in the modern states of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and| | |[pic] |Brunei.

It is also an important vernacular in the southern provinces of Thailand, in | | |[pic] |East Timor and among the Malay people of Australia’s Cocos Keeling Islands in the | | |[pic] |Indian Ocean. It is understood in parts of the Sulu area of the southern Philippines | | |[pic] |and traces of it are to be found among people of Malay descent in Sri Lanka, South | | |[pic] |Africa and other places. | | | |Malay is just one of many scores, perhaps hundreds, of different languages in the area | | | |now occupied by the Republic of Indonesia.

In 1928 the Indonesian nationalist movement | | | |chose it as the future nation’s national language. Its name was changed to Bahasa | | | |Indonesia, literally: “the language (bahasa) of Indonesia”. In English we call the | | | |language “Indonesian”: it is not correct to call it simply “Bahasa”. | | | |Indonesian is not related, even remotely, to English. Nor is it related to the inland | | | |languages of New Guinea, the Aboriginal languages of Australia or the Sino-Tibetan | | | |languages of China and continental Southeast Asia.

Indonesian belongs to the | | | |Austronesian language family which extends across the islands of Southeast Asia and the| | | |Pacific. Other languages in this family include Malagasy (spoken on Madagascar off the | | | |coast of Africa), Javanese (famous for its extraordinarily elaborate system of | | | |honorific speech levels), Balinese (the language of the beautiful Hindu island of | | | |Bali), Tagalog or Filipino (the national language of the Philippines), and Maori (the | | | |language of the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand).

Some Indonesian words | | | |have been borrowed into English, among them the common words gong, orangoutang and | | | |sarong, and the less common words paddy, sago and kapok. The phrase “to run amock” | | | |comes from the Indonesian verb amuk (to run out of control killing people | | | |indiscriminately). | | | |Unlike Chinese, Indonesian is not a tonal language. As far as pronunciation goes, | | | |Indonesian, though far from easy, is relatively straightforward for English speakers. | | |It is sometimes described as “agglutinative”, meaning that it has a complex range of | | | |prefixes and suffixes which are attached to base words just as, for example, the | | | |English word “uncomfortable” is built up from the base word “comfort”. The core | | | |vocabulary of Indonesian is Austronesian, but the language has also borrowed | | | |innumerable commonly used words from Sanskrit, Arabic, Dutch, English and local | | | |languages, especially from Javanese and Jakartan Malay. | | |  | | | |The History of Indonesian | | | |From earliest recorded times Malay was, and still is, the native tongue of the people | | | |who live on both sides of the Straits of Malacca that separate Sumatra from the Malay | | | |Peninsula. Because the Straits have always been a busy sea thoroughfare, countless | | | |travellers and traders came into contact with its language.

Over the centuries they | | | |bore Malay throughout the islands of Indonesia and the language became a widely used | | | |lingua franca, especially in coastal areas. This is one of the main reasons why, in the| | | |20th. century, Malay was chosen as the national language of the Indonesian republic and| | | |why it has played such an important role in forging Indonesia’s unity. | | | |Malay has also functioned as a court language. It was evidently the language of the | | | |Sumatran empire of Sriwijaya (9th to 14th centuries).

It was also the language of the | | | |greatest of all medieval Malay states, Malacca. When Malacca was subjugated by the | | | |Portuguese in 1511, its traditions were scattered far and wide and inspired the court | | | |culture of smaller successor states like Johor-Riau, Kelantan and Aceh. So modern | | | |Indonesian, too, basks in the glow of prestige which adheres to the language from | | | |centuries of use in indigenous administration and court arts. | | |Malay has always been a language of trade and business. The medieval city-state of | | | |Malacca, like the renaissance European city-states of Genoa and Venice, and the modern | | | |city-states of Hong Kong and Singapore, thrived on trade. The Malay language came to be| | | |used for commerce throughout the Indonesian archipelago, so much so that a special, | | | |”boiled-down” variant of the language developed which became known as market Malay or | | | |bazaar Malay (BahasaMelayu Pasar).

Thanks to this tradition, Malay seems to have | | | |adapted vigorously to the challenges of modern commerce. In modern Indonesia, the | | | |Indonesian language is easily the dominant language of business, especially at the | | | |middle and upper levels (local languages dominate in the rural market economy). | | | |When Islam came to the Indonesian region it spread along trade routes and through | | | |coastal trading cities where Malay was used.

Malay became linked with Islam and played | | | |a crucial role in the rise of Islam as the majority faith in the archipelago. Malay was| | | |also the language most widely used in the propagation of Christianity, especially in | | | |the now largely Christianised areas of East Indonesia. In other words, Islam and | | | |Christianity helped spread Malay, and Malay helped spread Islam and Christianity. | | | |Established religion has an important place in the Republic of Indonesia – there is | | | |even a powerful Department of Religion in the central government.

Today the Indonesian | | | |language is associated with the “modern” religions of Islam and Christianity, and | | | |participates in their social prestige and spiritual power. | | | |From the 17th century on, as the islands of Indonesia fell little by little under the | | | |control of the Netherlands, Malay came to be used by the European rulers as the most | | | |important medium of communication between government and people. Unlike in many other | | | |colonies, in Indonesia the language of the European rulers was not forced upon the | | | |local populace.

Only a small elite of indigenous Indonesians ever learned the Dutch | | | |language, and consequently Malay, although still very much a minority language in the | | | |Indies, was crucial to the smooth administration of the colony. When the Japanese | | | |invaded the Netherlands East Indies in 1942 one of their first measures was to prohibit| | | |use of the Dutch language. Since very few Indonesians knew Japanese, Malay (now called | | | |Indonesian) had to be used in administration even more widely and intensively than it | | | |had been under the Dutch.

With this track record of use in modern administration | | | |Indonesian easily and naturally assumed the mantle of official language and language of| | | |gvernment under the Republic. Today all government business: legislation, | | | |administration, justice, defence, education, national development and so on is | | | |conducted wholly in Indonesian. | | | |A good deal of the modern prestige of Indonesian comes from its role in the country’s | | | |nationalist movement.

But in the early years of the century Malay was not an obvious or| | | |unanimous choice as the language of indigenous cultural and political revival in the | | | |then Netherlands East Indies. At first, nationalism was as much expressed through | | | |Dutch, or through the languages of Indonesia’s local cultures, as it was through Malay. | | | |It was only with the famous Young People’s Vow (Sumpah Pemuda) formulated at the | | | |Congress of Young People in 1928 that he very name “Indonesian” was formally adopted | | | |and the language declared the pre-eminent language of Indonesia as well as the language| | | |of national unity. When the Indonesian nationalists emerged from the shadow of the | | | |Japanese occupation in 1945 to declare an independent republic, the Proclamation of | | | |Independence was uttered in Indonesian. Both the state philosophy of Pancasila and the | | | |Constitution were framed in Indonesian.

The subsequent victory of the Republic in the | | | |Revolution (1945-1949) consolidated the prestige of the language and gave its | | | |development unstoppable momentum. | | | |  | | | |The Functions of Indonesian Today | | | |Indonesians are overwhelmingly bilingual, indeed many people have a good command of | | | |three of four languages.

In infancy most people learn at least one of the country’s | | | |many local languages and later learn Indonesian at school or in the streets of cities | | | |or from television and radio. It is not clear how many people learn Indonesian in | | | |infancy as their very first language, but at the dawn of the 21st. century it cannot be| | | |less than 20% of the country’s population, and this percentage is steadily rising. | | | |Indonesian tends to be most used in the modern environment of major urban areas.

The | | | |local languages tend to dominate in rural areas and small towns, and are most used in | | | |homes, fields and markets. | | | |Indonesian is the medium of instruction in educational institutions at all levels | | | |throughout the country. In the early years of the Republic, local languages continued | | | |to be used in some places as the medium of instruction in the first years of primary | | | |school but this practice has now almost entirely disappeared.

In schools and | | | |universities most textbooks are in Indonesian, but at the tertiary level, especially in| | | |highly specialised courses and at the advanced level of study, textbooks in English are| | | |also widely used. | | | |Although there are several newspapers in English and Chinese, their circulation is | | | |relatively small and Indonesian is by far the dominant language in the country’s print | | | |media. Indonesia’s domestic Palapa satellite system brings television to almost every | | | |corner of the country.

With the exception of some newscasts in English and a small | | | |number of cultural programs in regional languages, domestic programs are entirely in | | | |Indonesian, and almost all programs of foreign origin are dubbed into Indonesian or | | | |have Indonesian-language sub-titles. Similarly Indonesian dominates in the very diverse| | | |and vibrant domain of radio broadcasting, although there are a small number of | | | |specialist programs in English and in some local languages. | | | |In politics, administration and the judiciary Indonesian is the sole official language. | | |It is the language of legislation, political campaigning, national and local | | | |government, court proceedings and the military. In some instances, judges may refer to | | | |old statutes and court records in Dutch to help them reach their decisions. In some | | | |rural areas of the country, for example in the hinterland of Java and in the mountains | | | |of West Papua, local languages may also play a role in administration and in the | | | |propagation of government policies. | | |Indonesia hosts a sparkling variety of traditional verbal arts (poetry, historical | | | |narratives, romances, drama etc. ) which are expressed in local languages, but modern | | | |genres are expressed mainly through Indonesian. Modern literature (novels, short | | | |stories, stage plays, free-form poetry etc. ) has developed since the late years of the | | | |19th. century and has produced such internationally recognised figures as novelist | | | |Pramoedya Ananta Toer, dramatist W. S. Rendra, poet Chairil Anwar and cinematographer | | | |Garin Nugroho.

Indonesian is also the language of the nation’s breezy, inventive | | | |popular arts: TV melodrama and comedy, pop novels, popular songs, cartoons and comics. | | | |Indonesian also dominates as the language of modern business. Needless to say, in | | | |enterprises that involve expatriate staff or international transactions English, | | | |Japanese, Chinese and other foreign languages are widely used, often side-by-side with | | | |Indonesian.

At the grass-roots level, in the country’s many thousands of village | | | |markets, Indonesian has only a marginal role to play and the local languages still | | | |prevail. | | | |Given the extraordinary diversity of Indonesia it is not easy to see, even more than | | | |half a century after Independence, what Indonesians have in common – what defines | | | |Indonesia as a nation. Perhaps more than anything the country’s unity and identity come| | | |from its national language. Nevertheless the emergence of separatist movements after | | | |the fall of President Soeharto in 1998 eminds us that the nationalist effort to forge | | | |a sense of unity and common identity is still unfinished and that the Indonesian | | | |language can also be a language of separatist activism, as it has been in areas as | | | |disparate as East Timor, Aceh and West Papua. | | | |  | | | |The Standard Language and Variation | | | |Indonesian is a very diverse language, but it has a broadly acknowledged standard form | | | |that is used in formal discourse from one end of the country to the other.

This | | | |standard form owes its origins mainly to the Balai Pustaka publishing house set up by | | | |the colonial rulers of the East Indies in 1917. Balai Pustaka’s titles were (and still | | | |are) widely used in schools. In editing the language of its books and magazines the | | | |Dutch and Indonesian staff of Balai Pustaka gave priority to the formal, literary Malay| | | |of Central Sumatra rather than the very varied and salty language of streets, markets | | | |and popular publications across the whole length and breadth of the country. | | |During the Second World War the Japanese rulers of Indonesia set up a Language | | | |Commission (Komisi Bahasa) the purpose of which was to create new terms and to | | | |systematically develop Indonesian as a nation-wide language of administration and | | | |modern technology. After independence the Language Commission went through several | | | |incarnations culminating in the establishment in 1975 of the Centre for Language | | | |Development (Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa usually shortened to Pusat Bahasa)| | | |under the Government’s Department of National Education.

The Centre for Language | | | |Development continues to undertake research on Indonesian, creating new terms and | | | |providing support for the standardisation and propagation of the language. Among its | | | |initiatives have been the publication of a standard grammar Tata Bahasa Baku Bahasa | | | |Indonesia (A Standard Grammar of Indonesian, 1988) and a standard dictionary, the Kamus| | | |Besar Bahasa Indonesia (A Comprehensive Dictionary of Indonesian, 1988).

It has | | | |encouraged people to use an officially endorsed style of formal Indonesian promoted | | | |under the slogan Gunakan Bahasa Indonesia yang baik dan benar (Use good and correct | | | |Indonesian). | | | |The way Indonesian is used by high-ranking officials and in government documents also | | | |provides models imitated throughout the country. The print media and television too are| | | |key sources of models.

Indeed the nation’s “serious” newspapers and magazines like, for| | | |example, the dailies Kompas and Republika, and the weekly newsmagazines Tempo and Gatra| | | |have made a point of creating new terms and cultivating innovation in formal style. | | | |Like all languages Indonesian displays dialect variation. The main dialect division is | | | |between the northern dialect (today called Malay or Malaysian) spoken in Malaysia, | | | |Singapore and Brunei, and the southern dialect spoken in Indonesia.

The southern | | | |variant may in turn be divided into two broad dialect domains, the western and the | | | |eastern, each having slightly different patterns of stress and intonation and some | | | |differences in vocabulary. The western variant is spoken throughout Sumatra, | | | |Kalimantan, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa and most of Sulawesi. The eastern variant, | | | |often referred to roughly and popularly as Ambonese Malay, is spoken in the north of | | | |Sulawesi, the islands of Maluku, in Flores, Timor and in West Papua.

Within both | | | |western and eastern dialect domains there are local dialects shaped by the influence of| | | |local languages. Among the easily identifiable smaller dialects are those of the Batak | | | |people of north Sumatra, the Minangkabau people of west Sumatra, the people of Jakarta,| | | |the Javanese, theBalinese and many more. | | | |Indonesian also displays dramatic differences in register and style. As in all modern | | | |languages, there is a general contrast between formal and informal usage.

Formal | | | |Indonesian is most used in writing, public speeches and in education. It is | | | |characterised by use of the full range of affixes and by a big, diverse vocabulary with| | | |a high incidence of esoteric terms from foreign or classical languages. Informal | | | |Indonesian is used in conversation and is characterised by the dropping of certain | | | |affixes, especially the prefix ber-, and the liberal borrowing of idioms from local | | | |languages.

Informal usage merges into street slang or youth slang peppered with | | | |particles like dong, deh and sih, sarcastic or humorous abbreviations, deliberate | | | |’misunderstandings’ of words, and components borrowed from local languages, like the | | | |Jakartan verbal suffix -in and the Javanese first person agent pronoun tak. The Prokem | | | |slang of Jakarta, which started out as a secret language of street kids and toughs, has| | | |entered the trendy speech of young people throughout the country, giving everyday | | | |currency to words like bokap (father, a transformation of bapak ), doi (she/he, a | | | |transformation of dia ), and ogut (I/me, a transformation of gua ).

In the speech of | | | |some people, code-switching is the norm with incessant jumping between Indonesian and a| | | |regional language, or (among the educated middle-class) between Indonesian and English. | | | |  | | | |Writing and Spelling Indonesian | | | |The very earliest records in Malay are inscriptions on stone using a syllable-based | | | |script derived from the indigenous scripts of India.

With the coming of Islam in the | | | |fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Arabic script was adopted to write Malay. Called | | | |Jawi script (huruf Jawi) or Arab-Malay script (huruf Arab-Melayu), today this script is| | | |still used in Malaysia and Brunei in a small number of publications, most notably in | | | |the Kuala Lumpur daily newspaper Utusan Melayu. | | | |In Indonesia, Roman or Latin script (the script you are reading now) began to be used | | | |to write Malay from the latter half of the 19th. entury, and by the early years of the| | | |20th century it had effectively displaced Jawi script. At first the spelling of Malay | | | |was chaotic but eventually it stabilised, essentially following the conventions of | | | |Dutch spelling. Small adjustments were made to this spelling in 1947 (the so-called | | | |Soewandi spelling), and a comprehensive overhaul, called the Updated and Improved | | | |Spelling (Ejaan Yang Disempurnakan), was implemented in 1972.

The latter reform was | | | |significant because, with a few small differences, it united the spelling of the | | | |Indonesian and Malaysian variants of the language. For more on the differences the | | | |spelling of Indonesia before and after 1972 refer to the box on p. 726 below. | | | |A huge number of abbreviations and acronyms are used in official contexts as well as in| | | |everyday life in Indonesia. These are described in brief in the box on p. 1089 | |