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Re: Re Rant Defending Indonesian

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Saturday, November 2, 2002, 6:42
Mat McVeagh wrote:

>>From: Roger Mills <romilly@...> >>I think one needs to rise to the defense of Indonesian. It is no more a >>conlang or auxlang etc. etc. than modern English, French, Spanish,
>>etc. etc. It was not "invented", it just developed-- Mat's "kind of >>invented" may be "kind of accurate", however. > >I never did think it was a straight-forward auxlang ;) But this is from the >introduction of my Teach Yourself Indonesian: > >"Indonesian is a fairly new language. It has developed from Malay... >Efforts were made to abolish 'Melayu Pasar', a jargon which was widely >spoken, and replace it with modern Malay. >A conference on the forming of the Indonesian language was 1938. >...modern Malay was to be the basis of the Indonesian language." > >All of which suggests there was at least some 'language planning' involved >in creating the modern Indonesian language: that it was not just a >continuation of Malay.
It would have been more accurate if TYI had written "...fairly new _as a national language_" since standardized BI was a second/acquired language for almost everyone at the beginning. (I knew, for example, a Batak man married to a Javanese; they spoke BI to each other, and of course their children spoke only BI. It's similar to the situation of children of immigrants in this country) The only real planning involved was codifying the grammar, based on the particular dialect of Malay already used in written work (one considered "most pure" though I don't know who made that decision), regularizing the spelling and pronunciation, and deciding how many regional loanwords would be allowed into the dictionary. Melayu Pasar, at least in Indonesia, tended to be somewhat stigmatized, as it was associated with Dutch/native, master/servant relationships and to some extent, sorry to say, with the Chinese small-merchant class that was encountered daily in local markets.
>>One could I suppose have chosen to educate everybody in their native >>language-- >>Acehnese, Batak, Minang, Sundanese, Javanese, Madurese, Balinese, Sasak, >>Buginese, Makassarese, 10 or so Toraja languages, the 100s of languages in >>the Moluccas, the 50 or so languages of Flores, the 10 or so of >>Timor---need >>I go on? > >I believe in the preservation of native languages if possible, and in >education in native languages.
So do I, but the Indonesian case is exceptional. The 10 languages I named above are those with a million or more speakers. There may be 4-600 others, ranging from a few hundred speakers up to maybe 500,000. It would have been a nearly impossible task to prepare teaching materials in every language. The result has been a language of remarkable uniformity, from one end of the country to the other; a lot of geographic and social mobility, and until recently, very little tension between ethnic groups. (Religious differences are another matter.) Possibly one of the few things still holding the place together is the sense of unity provided by the language.