Words in Motion: Language and Discourse in Post-New Order Indonesia
Keith Foulcher, Mikihiro Moriyama, and Manneke Budiman, eds.
Singapore: NUS Press and Tokyo: Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 2012, xi+312p.
This book is the outcome of a long cooperation between Australian, Japanese, and Indonesian scholars in the field of Indonesian language and discourse. Previously, books in Japanese (Moriyama and Shiohara 2009) and Indonesian (Moriyama and Budiman 2010) had already been published by the same editors. Some of the chapters in this current English-language edition are revised translations of the earlier volumes.
The book is divided into 12 chapters and a very interesting Introduction by Keith Foulcher, on “Fluid Transitions in an Era of Reform.” As one of the most accomplished scholars in the field of Indonesian literary and textual studies, Keith Foulcher situates in this chapter the actual contributions to this volume within the greater context of the drastic shifts in Indonesian intellectual discourse since 1998. It was not only new domestic freedom of expression after the downfall of President Suharto, but also Indonesia’s now much more intense exposure to the global flow of information that Foulcher identifies as the main reasons for the fundamental shifts. As if the editors wanted to illustrate the drastic changes that took place with the reformasi movement in 1997 and 1998, interestingly, the slot of the very first chapter is then given to Untung Yuwono’s contribution on “Swear-Words in Contemporary Indonesian Youth Slang.” The examples and the discussion in the chapter illustrate aptly some of the atmosphere of the grassroots movement that the reformasi once was. Manneke Budiman’s analysis of “Foreign Languages and Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary Indonesian Fiction” builds more on the second theme developed in Foulcher’s Introduction: the wide range of international impulses before and after 1998. This topic is dealt with implicitly also in George Quinn’s highly informative chapter on “Post-New Order Developments in Javanese Language and Literature.” At the same time, Budiman’s and Quinn’s chapters are the only ones in this volume that deal with literature.
As the book is not divided into parts or sections, readers might find the reasons for the exact sequence of the chapters not very clear: after the chapter on swear-words come two contributions on literature, then a number of case-studies on regional languages (Sundanese, Eastern Indonesia, North Sulawesi, Bali), then two contributions on the role of Chinese in post-New Order Indonesia. The final two chapters deal with media rhetorics (referring to the President in Indonesian media) and the politics of language standardization in Indonesia. Here, the editors could have helped the readers a bit by structuring the volume more clearly.
Having said this, the interested reader will find the high quality of most contributions in this book very helpful. This is, for instance, particularly visible in the seven contributions by Japanese scholars on regional languages in Indonesia, which follow Quinn’s chapter on Javanese language and literature. It is a great merit of this volume to make these works by Mikihiro Moriyama, Asako Shiohara, Atsuko Utsumi, Mayuko Hara, Haruya Kagami, Koji Tsuda, and Yumi Kitamura available to a non-Japanese reading audience. It is not only the individual qualities of these contributions that are so impressive; rather, viewed together, they demonstrate the depth and range of contemporary Japanese expertise in Indonesian linguistics. There might be very few other countries outside of Indonesia which have such specialized scholars in this field in the moment, covering various regions and regional languages of Indonesia, including the varieties of Chinese used in the country.
The final two chapters of the volume bring the attention back to the national stage in Jakarta. Dwi Noverini Djenar’s analysis of Indonesian media texts referring to the President is a highly informative contribution not only to linguistics in a narrower sense, but also to media studies, political science, and rhetorics. On the other hand, the final chapter, by Jan van der Putten, on “The Politics of Language Standardization in Indonesia,” is not a textual analysis such as Dwi Noverini Djenar’s contribution. Rather, it outlines major aspects of language standardization in Indonesia from a macro perspective, which could make this particular chapter very useful also for teaching purposes. Students who are unable to read Jérôme Samuel’s authoritative French-language work on language planning in Indonesia (Samuel 2005) can therefore refer to Jan van der Putten’s contribution in the future.
In general, this volume offers a range of very interesting contributions to the field of Indonesian linguistics, literature, and media studies. At the same time, it demonstrates to international readers the very high quality and broad range of the Japanese expertise in Indonesian studies, and it also showcases a very useful outcome of international cooperation in this field, in this case between Japanese, Indonesian, and Australian colleagues.
Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Goethe-University of Frankfurt
Moriyama Mikihiro 森山幹弘; and Budiman, Manneke, eds. 2010. Geliat bahasa selaras zaman: perubahan bahasa-bahasa di Indonesia pasca Orde Baru [How language changes in harmony with the times: Changing languages in post-Suharto Indonesia]. Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia.
Moriyama Mikihiro 森山幹弘; and Shiohara Asako 塩原朝子, eds. 2009. Tagengo Shakai Indoneshia: Kawariyuku Kokugo, Chihogo, Gaikokugo no Shoso 多言語社会インドネシア―変わりゆく国語, 地方語, 外国語の諸相 [Multilingual societies of Indonesia: Changing national, local, and foreign languages]. Tokyo: Mekong Publishing.
Samuel, Jérôme. 2005. Modernisation lexicale et politique terminologique: Le cas de l’indonésien [Lexical modernization and terminological policy: The case of Indonesian]. Paris: Peeters.