Selasa, Agustus 21, 2007

English versus Bahasa

Several months ago I read a short writing in one blog belonging to a youngster (I forgot how young, but I suppose he was still in college for his bachelor’s degree). He complained when one day in one cyber cafĂ© he heard two users speaking English, and both of them were Indonesians. The blogger considered that they JUST wanted to show off their capability in English! What was wrong with our own national language—Bahasa Indonesia? Why didn’t they just use it instead? He asked himself.
(I am really sorry I forgot to quote the site address. )
Last August 9 2007, Suara Merdeka published one article entitled “Alat Pemersatu Kurang Laku”; page 6 different from the one I quoted above but similar. The writer said that the phenomenon of people using foreign terms, such as bus way, three in one, etc showed that Indonesian people do not love their own language.
I love writing in English. Perhaps because I am an English teacher and I am accustomed to thinking in English when the first time I made a blog, I used English as the media. Moreover my blog where I got lots of warm comments from people all over the world was at an English website ( This made me write in English more and more. I started writing in Bahasa even when I made friend with an Indonesian guy living in New Zealand. This best friend whom I call ‘Abang’ said that he was somewhat tired to speak English all the time there so he enjoyed speaking Bahasa when communicating with me and some other mailing list friends who live all around the world. My other mailing list friends also said the same thing—they would prefer to speak Bahasa to each other rather than to use English because they wanted to maintain their capability in Bahasa. Instead of using English (to show off who is the best to use this international language after living abroad for years, for instance), they chose the national language to communicate!
So, in this small scope, I absolutely don’t agree with the narrow-minded opinion that when people speak foreign language—English for example—it means the speaker doesn’t love the national language. I want to speak English with my daughter—especially in public so that people will not know what we are talking about, and not just to show off—but she refused to respond in English, perhaps because she is not used to it, or because she felt uncomfortable to people around that perhaps would judge us as arrogant. Meanwhile, I just want her to practice her capability in listening and speaking with me (besides to speak secretly in public). Anything wrong with this learning process? Learning does not always take place in classrooms, does it?
In a bigger scope, such as the use of Bahasa for titles of books, especially for literature—read it as novels, dramas, or poems, including movies—I am of opinion that in literature, people are free to express their being artistic and creative in using any language. In literature, the choice of one word—in any language—can mean a lot. If the word is changed into another word, the creator probably will think that the ‘sense’ is different. For the name of some television programs, or the name of some buildings/malls/offices, I somewhat agree that they had better use Bahasa. Should the government made a regulation about this? I don’t really agree with this though. To me this is not really crucial, compared to the government’s responsibility to provide job vacancies for the citizens so that they don’t need to go abroad to be migrant workers only to “let themselves killed by the irresponsible and cruel employers”; or to alleviate the poverty; or to decrease the prices of everything; or many other things: including paying attention to some insane mayors or regents of some cities/regencies in Indonesia that tend to make crazy regulations (such as checking female students’ virginity!!!)
In this globalization era, we all must realize that mastering one international language—in many cases English is considered to be the lingua franca. To master an international language, people must practice it again and again anywhere and anytime, including in public places, with whoever they speak. Will it decrease our love to our own national language? I don’t agree with it. Will it make Bahasa not be used as the national lingua franca among ethnic groups in Indonesia? I don’t agree with it either. The Javanese absolutely need Bahasa to communicate with the Sundanese or Balinese or any other ethnic groups in Indonesia when they don’t understand Boso Jowo (Javanese language). Even in some areas where there are many tribes like in Papua where each ethnic has respective local language and the people don’t understand each other, they need Bahasa to communicate with each other.
We will always need Bahasa to communicate with our fellow citizens from different ethnic groups who have different local language. Meanwhile, speaking English—or any other foreign language—will not easily reduce our love to our own national language.
PT56 21.49 190807

8 komentar:

  1. Anyone saying speaking English in Indonesia "JUST wanted to show off their capability in English!" is either immature (unwise) or just simply negative thinker. Perhaps she/ he cannot really speaks the lingo, that's part of being immature and negative.
    People's are free to speak in any languages, it's a freedom to choose, just like choosing their own clothes.
    If someone happened to speak any language for the sake showing off, ignore them, so what? They do not break any rule, do they?
    And it's correct, English is a lingua franca. Master it and you are better off anywhere you are.
    After all, Bahasa will always be the mother language in Indonesia.

    I communicate with any languages whenever and whoever I feel comfortable with.


  2. Dear A,
    That's what I am thinking too, because they don't speak it well, they accuse other people who speak it just wanna show off.
    I do agree, for those who speak a certain language just wanna show off, ignore them. Finish. LOL.
    I wanna communicate with you in boso Jowo anyway. LOL.

  3. Duh gusti, ngomong boso jowo yo mumet aku. Ra iso, iso-ne betawian.

  4. How about if you speak Betawi and I reply in Boso Jowo? huehehehe ...

  5. Bu, why do you call "Bahasa Indonesia" or "Indonesian" as 'bahasa' only?

  6. Satria, that's what people abroad call our language. Honestly, I still don't find out why or how they use the term "Bahasa" for "Bahasa Indonesia". :(
    If it refers to the regulation of English, well, we call "bahasa Inggris" only ENGLISH, without the word LANGUAGE, English is the adjective of the word ENGLAND, which is the name of the country.
    "Bahasa Indonesia", well the word "Indonesia" refers to the name of the country, OUR COUNTRY, (from your name, I assume that you are an Indonesian :) sorry if I am wrong :) ) while the word BAHASA is taken from our language.
    Perhaps from that 'history', foreign people call our national language as only BAHASA.
    Do you get the point? No? I am sorry, if not. I myself still want to know ... LOL.
    Thanks for dropping by and leaving comment. :)

  7. The ISO official-, standardized-, and recognized English translation for 'Bahasa Indonesia' is 'Indonesian'.

    I think we shall start to correct the wrong naming of our language. Otherwise, it'll get worse. :)

  8. Enjoyed reading what you have written here. A logger from my LINK lists wrote something just like this post.
    You can check him out here:
    An awesome English Language teacher too.