[lg policy] Maintaining Opartly alive=?ISO-8859-1?Q?=B9_?=languages in Indonesia

Joseph Errington j.errington at YALE.EDU
Mon Apr 4 11:34:18 UTC 2011

Hi there,

I know something about Javanese script (aksara Jawa), but am very rusty.

Joe Errington

On 4/3/2011 12:00 PM, Brookes, Tim wrote:
> I guess I answered my own question! Apologies to everyone for this strange two-step response!
> I'd very much to hear from others who are interested in the issue of the catastrophe of multilingualism in Indonesia, because this catastrophe affects not only spoken languages, as the author, points out, but own area of interest: writing systems. As I understand it, many of the traditional scripts of the islands that came to comprise Indonesia are now in serious decline. I'm hoping to include several in the next phase of my Endangered Alphabets Project (http://www.endangeredalphabets.com). If anyone reading this posting can still read and write any of these traditional scripts, or knows others who can, I'd be very glad if you would get in touch with me.
> Thanks!
> Tim Brookes
> On 4/3/11 11:19 AM, "Harold Schiffman"<hfsclpp at gmail.com>  wrote:
> Maintaining 'partly alive' languages in Indonesia
> Mochamad Subhan Zein, Jakarta | Sat, 04/02/2011 8:00 AM
> In my article published by The Jakarta Post, "Indonesia: A Battlefield
> of Linguistic Survival" published on Jan. 29, I pointed out that
> "multilingualism in Indonesia is in a real state of catastrophe".
> My statement is not an exaggeration, since research conducted by a
> prominent research institution, the Summer Institute of Linguistics
> (SIL), stated that no less than 86.7 percent of the 735 languages in
> Indonesia are at risk of extinction. These languages are spoken by
> fewer than 100,000 native speakers and are only partly alive.
> In Indonesia's contemporary world where political hypocrisies, weak
> law enforcement, and religious intolerances form an endless thread of
> news consumed by the people, the skeptical may ask, "Can concerns
> about language maintenance enter the realm of people's daily lives?"
> Well, I am an optimist, so I would answer "yes" to that question.
> Re-cently, the Post showed some posters in Javanese characters carried
> by several students of SD Bright Kiddie 3 on their visit to Panjebar
> Semangat magazine in Surabaya, East Java.
> These children might not be aware of the nature of their visit, but
> what they did was a simple example of language policy, a good sample
> of language conservation.
> With the intention to support the campaign to use Javanese as a native
> language in Indonesia, the children demonstrated what schools could do
> to prevent local languages from disappearing. I would like to argue
> that two elements that need to be fully considered when maintaining
> languages include the societal aspects of the language and the
> presence of competitor language(s).
> First of all, improving the functional values of an endangered
> language needs to be a priority. In order for a language to survive,
> it should have a social function. Put simply, a language needs to be
> spoken for it to be well-preserved. Thus, a language that is not
> spoken in society needs to at least be spoken at home. Parents, in
> this regard, need to speak in their local languages with their
> children.
> Children who live in urban areas are usually victims of modernity.
> Many of these children are the offspring of inter-ethnical marriages.
> Their parents could be Javanese and Sundanese, or Betawi and
> Sundanese, or Bimanese and Malay, so they are often native speakers of
> two different languages.
> Children may be exposed to Indonesian both at home and at school, and
> learn English at school or in private courses, but they sometimes do
> not have chances to speak with their parents in their local languages.
> As a consequence, most of these children don't have the slightest idea
> of simple terms in their parents' local languages, not to mention
> conversing in them.
> What parents can do is to promote a family language policy. Let say a
> family consists of a Javanese husband, his Sundanese wife and their
> two children.
> In private conversations, the father needs to speak Javanese with the
> children, whereas the wife would speak Sundanese. When they hold
> family gatherings, however, all family members switch to use
> Indonesian. Both Javanese and Sundanese are well-preserved within the
> family and the use of Indonesian is promoted.
> The family strategy is proved viable as in the case of a friend of my
> colleague who has mastered both English and Gujarati. His success
> story adds to countless cases of children who speak both Spanish and
> Portuguese or English and German.
> The next step to empowering a language is through social institutions.
> In fact, language policy efforts at a local level are manifold and can
> be achieved through various social domains. Schooling is a domain in
> which language policy can take place, as the students of SD Bright
> Kiddie 3 have demonstrated.
> Children can learn Javanese at school and learn how alphabets are
> formed in these languages. They can also attend extra-curricular
> activities in Javanese or even read comics in Javanese and do some
> sort of Javanese traditional performances, like Ludruk and others.
> The religious domain is another viable means for language
> conservation. Children who speak local languages in Mahakam,
> Kalimantan, can maintain their language through chanting religious
> spells in their local religion.
> The presence of a competitor language also needs to be fully
> considered. In this sense, Indonesian has become a rival to local
> languages, according to scholars such as Ajip Rosidi. In many cases,
> during the New Order regime, efforts to use local languages were
> deemed unsupportive to national development.
> Although the spirit to promote the status of Indonesian as the
> national language was meritorious, there were misconceptions in the
> early years of Indonesian independence, which then built strong
> prejudices against vernaculars or local languages in Indonesia.
> A common misconception about the 1928 Youth Pledge is that instead of
> declaring "We, Indonesian youths, highly respect the use of a united
> language, the Indonesian language," people say "We, Indonesian youths,
> speak one language, the Indonesian language".
> As a result, the motivation to secure vernaculars against extinction
> was seen as a separatist movement that deviates from a national vision
> of having one nation with one national language. No wonder local
> languages are seen as ancient and against modernity.
> English could also be a rival to local languages. The fact now more
> and more primary schools offer English to students in various places
> in Indonesia and the fact that lots of children learn it at private
> courses is undeniable.
> It is true that children need to learn English for their future, but
> they also need to learn their local languages. Acquiring English at
> the expense of their local languages is ill-advised. Thus, some sort
> of language policy should be created to support preservation of local
> languages and on the other hand promote Indonesian and English.
> The author, a PhD candidate at the Australian National University
> (ANU), is an English instructor at the University of Canberra's
> English Language Institute.
> http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/04/02/maintaining-%E2%80%98partly-alive%E2%80%99-languages-indonesia.html
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