The Jakarta Post
The ministry is currently holding a language ambassador contest in a bid to preserve Indonesia's regional languages. (Shutterstock/File)
The Education and Culture Ministry is said to have identified 646 regional languages, according to the ministry's Language Agency head Dadang Sunendar.
"We have already identified 646 regional languages. In the next two months, we estimate the number will increase," said Dadang in Jakarta on Friday as quoted by Antara news agency.
The identification of the nation's many languages is part of an effort to discover how many regional languages exist in Indonesia. Several of the languages are said to have gone extinct as they are not used anymore, including Hoti, Hukumina, Hulung, Serua, Teun, Palumata, Loun, Moksela, Nakaela and Nila — all found in Maluku. Some Papuan languages like Saponi and Mapia have also reportedly vanished.
The ministry is currently holding a language ambassador contest in a bid to preserve Indonesia's regional languages. This year, each province is encouraged to send two language ambassadors.
"To become a language ambassador is not easy. Other than having to be able to speak Bahasa Indonesia fluently, they also have to have mastered regional and foreign languages," said Dadang.
Of course, all language ambassadors would have to be able to use regional languages found in their respective provinces. Dadang said they would receive language training for one week prior to representing their provinces.
"It's quite a challenge. We could not run the campaign alone. We have to collaborate with parents, teachers and the media," Dadang added.
South Kalimantan Language Ambassador, Muhammad Andri HF, said the province was home to 18 regional languages, but that the most popular language currently used was Banjar. "We try to preserve [regional] languages. We don't want them to become extinct," he said. (kes)