Indonesian a dialogical misfit

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed Oct 29 23:30:57 UTC 2008

Indonesian a dialogical misfit

Erwida Maulia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesian has been the country's official language for 80 years, but
it now faces marginalization as regions look to preserve their local
dialects and the country strives to learn English to keep up with
globalization. Dendy Sugono, head of the National Education Ministry
Language Center, said the public was concerned that the prevalence of
the Indonesian language was threatening the existence of local
dialects.  He said in Jakarta on Tuesday that at least nine local
dialects in Papua and one in North Maluku were facing extinction.

"Young families living in cities tend to speak Indonesian among
themselves. This is the main concern expressed during several local
dialect congresses held earlier, including the Javanese congress, the
Balinese congress, the Sundanese congress ...," Dendy told more than
1,000 people attending the opening of the Ninth Indonesian Language
Congress, which will run for five days.  He also said Indonesian was
facing threats from foreign languages, especially English, as a result
of Indonesia's struggle to compete on the global market.

"This situation shows how the positions and functions of the three
languages in the communities are not yet well established. What we
really need is to balance our mastery of local dialects, Indonesian
and foreign languages," Dendy said.  The congress, themed "Indonesian
Language Creates Smart and Competitive Indonesians on the Top of a
National Civilization Foundation", gathers linguists and literary
figures, policy makers, educators, students and a number of foreigners
teaching Indonesian abroad.

Dendy said up to 67 countries had universities or other institutions
that offered Indonesian language classes, and that every year about
500 foreign students were invited to learn Indonesian under a
scholarship scheme funded by the ministry. Education Minister Bambang
Sudibyo said in his opening speech that Indonesian was engaged in a
"dialogical interaction" with foreign languages, and that the
community should not view the situation from a "pessimistic point of

He said the Indonesian language was in desperate need of expansion as
it had absorbed many scientific and technological words from foreign
languages. M. Umar Muslim, an Indonesian language lecturer at the
University of Indonesia (UI), said in order to balance the use of
local dialects, Indonesian and foreign languages, there should be a
definition of appropriate situations for each.  Local dialects, he
said, should be extensively spoken at home, where parents should not
be ashamed of speaking them.

Indonesian should be spoken between people from different regions and
in formal situations, while English could be used when learning
science and technology at universities, he said. Tuesday's event also
saw the launch of the Indonesian Language Map, which displays the
country's 440 local dialects according to where they are spoken across
the archipelago. The Language Center also launched an Indonesian
dictionary and thesaurus, which can be accessed for free at

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list