Best of the Best (Crème de la Crème)

            Alfred Russel Wallace, page 20 in Malay Archipelago (his great travel book about the six years he spent traveling through the Dutch East Indies in the mid 1800s) writes: "the inhabitants of Malaka established a peculiar language drawn from the most elegant modes of speaking of other nations, so that in fact the language of the Malays is the most refined, exact and celebrated of all the East. Their language is in vogue through the Indies."

            Jan Huyghen van Linschoten in his Itinerario, reports a local tradition of the Malays of Malacca according to which the beginnings of the city dated back "only a few years" before his time (1575 to 1600 AD). "The place originated in the gathering of fishermen of all nations at that particular spot, where they decided to build a town and to develop their own language, taking the best words from all languages of the neighborhood. The town of Malacca, because of its favorable situation, became the principal port of southeastern Asia, its language called the Malay came to be considered the most polite and fittest of all languages of the Far East."

            Modern Indonesian is derived from a literary dialect of Old Malay, which was the lingua franca of Southeast Asia. The big split happened in 1901 when Indonesia adopted the Van Ophuysen orthography. Malaysia adopted the Wilkinson orthography in 1904.


Indo Intl.

            After working closely with both languages for the last 10 years, it is the author's personal opinion that bahasa Indonesia is more suitable than English to be the world's International Language. Bahasa Indonesia is easy to learn and still has logical root word families. There is a simplicity and consistency in bahasa Indonesia that seems lacking in English.

            It may be time to start preparing for the day when a new international language will be adopted. I suggest that bahasa Indonesia is the only logical replacement and that work should begin on a new improved version called "Indo Intl". You can join the movement to promote bahasa Indonesia as the world's next international language by helping to perfect bahasa Indonesia now, which is in dire need of gender. An international language must have gender. Give us your opinion - for a start, should bahasa Indonesia adopt and begin to use these two new gender words - "dialaki & diawa"?

             "dialaki" to signify the male gender {dia + laki} dialaki = he, him, that man

            "diawa" to signify female {dia+wa(nita)} diawa = she, her, that female          examples:             Dialaki pergi Medan. = He goes to Medan

                        Diawa pergi Jakarta = She goes to Jakarta

            The word "dia" would then be used when the sex of the person referred to is unknown or unimportant. If you aren't in agreement with the above, please provide other suggestions of ways to add the concept of male/female gender to bahasa Indonesia. This website can be an informal forum for views on whether bahasa Indonesia could ever become a truly international language. Who knows?

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1. Anonymous 12June06: if Malay was the historic name for the language, shouldn't the new international language be Malaysian and not Indonesian?

            Author Response: well we could use the name Malay but since there are already about 200 million users of bahasa Indonesia vs. only about 25 million for bahasa Malaysia (Melayu), I think we should use Indonesian language. The two languages are similar but many spellings are not the same and I doubt if they could ever be merged. Maybe just use an improved Indonesian language but call it Malay Intl ?


2. T. Gilson 13June06: Hmm. the controversy begins. Why does a language need gender terms? Gender terms in English can actually be a hindrance. For example: "If a person joins the military, he should know what he is doing." This leaves out all females, and forces us to use the ungrammatical, awkward "he/she". What English needs is a gender-neutral pronoun like Indonesian to avoid these messes. In Spanish every animate noun has to have a gender, i.e. a table is a male or female, so are trees, computers, etc. I think that if you were a native Spanish speaker you would see this as "natural" and would be arguing for Indonesian to incorporate that.

      Author Response: I doubt if Spanish people like the way their language classifies objects as male or female. They just have to put up with it like with so many other crazy illogical things in language. But note that with the new improved Indo Intl. suggested above, there would be the personal pronoun "dia" to be used "when the sex of the person referred to is unknown or unimportant". So we have it both ways, able to specify sex when desired with the two new words or to use the neutral term "dia" when not desired. But you're right, it is awkward to use gender-neutral language in English. Just one more reason to dump English as a lingua franca.



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