Colloquial Indonesian

Authored by: Michael C. Ewing

The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar

Print publication date:  November  2004
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780700712861
eBook ISBN: 9780203821121
Adobe ISBN: 9781136755101


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Indonesian is a variety of Malay, a language spoken throughout much of insular and peninsular Southeast Asia. Malay occurs in many indigenous varieties, as a lingua franca, and in creolized forms. The variety known as Indonesian has developed from language planning work initiated by colonial scholars and administrators under Dutch rule. These scholars reinforced an indigenous distinction between ‘high’ and ‘low’ forms of the language in an effort to valorize one (artificially produced) variety of High Malay for their colonial purposes, in contrast to the numerous seemingly unwieldy varieties of Low Malay flourishing throughout the archipelago. This language-planning agenda has been continued in the post-colonial era by Indonesian linguists and educators with the goal of transforming Indonesian into a standardized ‘high’ language deemed suitable for a modern, culturally and intellectually forward-looking people, and shielded from the corrupting influences of ‘low’ forms of the language (see Steinhauer, Chapter 3, this volume, for more discussion).

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