Monday, February 08, 2010

Gasp! I Have Trouble With Bahasa Indonesia!

To my horror, I realized how terrible my Bahasa Indonesia vocabulary is. I have to acknowledge that there are words that I forget its existence, and words that are absolutely new to me. With knowledge of several languages, I take for granted all foreignization words without even bother to look for the domestication ones.

In the early days of this blog, I pushed myself to write in proper Bahasa Indonesia. At that time I tended to mingle what ever words came up in my mind, I sometimes mixed English and Dutch, but I mostly mixed Bahasa Indonesia and Dutch/English (and at some point German) when I talked to fellow Indonesians. Basically just like what most Jakartan I meet over here. Although, my excuse was I did it because I was lazy to think of the proper word to use after spending all day in certain language before switching to the other. I dont know what's the excuse of Jakartan to do that, as all if not most of the time they use Bahasa Indonesia.

So now, I am re-learning my mother tongue, specially for certain areas. And boy, it's not as easy as I thought.


colson said...

This is an intriguing post to me. And a little frightening.

Is it really possible to unlearn (important) parts of your mother tongue?

Or were you born and raised in London/Amsterdam? I mean a long distance away from the natural biotope of the native language.

Or are you factually English or Dutch. And speakihng Bahasa Indonesia only as your second language? Actually your Dutch is suspiciously perfect.

triesti said...

Thank you for your compliment.You are so kind, I dont think my English or Dutch is that good to be suspected as a native:)

I think Bahasa Indonesia is a bit like Dutch, in the sense that when you are writing something formal it is more complicated. My problem is the choice of words that I can use/reproduce. I still understand 99% of it, but still need to borrow from foreign words to state something. For example to say 'transportation' I just use 'transportasi' which is foreignization in Bahasa Indonesia, instead of finding domestication of it 'pengangkutan'.

I think living abroad for some time can do that to you, as the words you are using are not as vast as when you are still living in home country.

I was laughing the other day when I have to translate something in English to Bahasa Indonesia, and all I could think of was Dutch words for it. Who would have thought! :)

mousharilla said...

Don't worry about it, more people have the same problem than you'd think! A lot of the times I think the languages don't align quite well.. I mean there are words with similar meanings, but it's not the one you want, because the one you want just so happens to be in another language!

Translating made me realize my Indonesian is terrible as well. Ah well. Hahaha