Sunday, June 13, 2010

Am I a Language Sinner (?)

Responding to my note ‘the side-effect’ of reading, Melao and Dwi Putranto raised another but very intriguing topic of Bahasa Indonesia. Dwi Putranto told the fact that there are now many Indonesian prefer English to Bahasa Indonesia while Melao said that some of her colleagues questioned her abundant using of Bahasa Indonesia in her FB statuses (I love her ‘sweetly … and deeply … statutes in Bahasa Indonesia…as a matter of fact.).

Those responses make me think about me and the language I use…

You’re correct if you also wonder about my motive writing this issue in English while perhaps I can also write this note in Bahasa Indonesia. But does it make me a language sinner if I wrote this note in English? Or if I chose to write this note (or all my notes) in Bahasa Indonesia… will it make me a traitor to my so-called ‘English Department’ group?

I grew up speaking two languages: bahasa Jawa and bahasa Indonesia … then I am exposed to English language. I am only able to write well in Bahasa Indonesia and English... still do not master both languages properly but at least people won’t find it difficult to understand my points. It is a pity that I am incapable of writing in Bahasa Jawa because I never keen to learn how to write it well (but I promise I will).

What those languages for me are like blood in my body … they give me life… to express my ideas and feelings. They are very much part of me that I don’t know why and when I opt for one when I have a choice (when I don’t have choice … of course… I’ll use the appropriate language … like I can’t use English when I was in ‘Arisan PKK’ at home…:D).

One of my Japanese colleagues, Kimi, told me that Indonesian who can speak more than one languages never find difficulties in switching and mixing the languages even in front of foreigners. She noted that Japanese could not do the same easily. I never realized that fact until she told me.

And I think Kimi is right. In a seminar I met some friends who can speak bahasa Jawa, English, and of course bahasa Indonesia, and we talked about lots of things switching, mixing, turning, chattering, and blabbering with these three languages interchangeably. I am not saying that we’re so good in those three languages that we mix the languages but more to we’re so limited in our way of expressing our worlds and perceptions if we use only one language (what is the translation of ‘meksa’ (Jawa) … ‘Huh… nek basane awake dhewe… analisane mau meksa.’ And what is the translation of ‘analisa’ in bahasa Jawa anyway… For me… “ouccchhh… it hurts” … is much better than “aduuuhhhh… sakit” … . And “wah… ngenyekmu jeroooo”… can’t be substituted with anything else).

I will say that whatever the language I use to speak (or write), that will be my own choice. When I mix them, it is not because I proudly want to show that I can speak English but it shows that I am not perfect, that I am limited in my mastering of those languages. But one thing for sure … whatever happens … I love to be an Indonesian (a Jawa…) who can speak and write in Bahasa Indonesia (and basa Jawa) … (and English). And I will use them properly (never perfectly though) … .

So if you choose to use a language instead of other(s) you know, it’s your free choice. Your heart will lead you in this matter…

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