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Jakarta Post

A sophistication unfolds in a new dictionary

  • Nikolaos van Dam


JAKARTA   /   Sun, February 15 2009   /  11:48 am
(JP/R. Berto Wedhatama)(JP/R. Berto Wedhatama)

Those who imagine Bahasa Indonesia to be a simple language will soon discover its sophistication if they make a serious effort to get acquainted with its literature and other writings. It may be relatively easy to learn some basic Indonesian, but when it comes to the more sophisticated variety, one is easily confronted with its linguistic complexities. Actually, it is not only foreigners who help maintain the myth of the so-called "simplicity" of the Indonesian language; Indonesians themselves enthusiastically contribute in keeping this myth intact. But aren't all mother-tongues simple, as long as they are one's own mother-tongue? One of the largest obstacles for any foreigner wishing to learn Indonesian is its extensive vocabulary. The fact that Indonesian contains some 20,000 loan-words from other languages (compiled in Russell Jones' Loan-Words in Indonesian an...