Bahasa Indonesia vs Malay

Due to the fact that Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language) is derived from Malay, I used to think that Bahasa Indonesia is a later version of the original Malay. In this way, Malay, the language used in Malaysia and Brunei, would be "more original" or more "traditional" than Indonesian. I have to change my mind as a professor in the University of Washington told me the other way around.

It was during my oral exam that Prof. Chirot told me a story of him accompanying the late Prof. Lev. An Indonesianist specializing in the 1950s, Prof. Lev was trained in Bahasa Indonesia rather than Malay. So, he speaks fluently Indonesian.

Once upon a time. They both were visiting Malaysia. In conversations with Malaysian, Prof. Lev speaks Indonesian rather than English. The Malaysian they met were amazed by his fluency. They were embarrassed as they felt that they didn't speak a "purer" Malay as Prof Lev did. According to Prof. Chirot, Malaysians think Indonesians speak the more original Malay. It is because their Malay has been very influenced by many English words.

By chance, I was working on scanning Prof. Lev's interviews with Malaysian lawyers in 1980s this morning and I found a similar case. A lawyer Prof. Lev was interviewing had a hard time to translate a legal term for the English "negligence" into Malay (read that part of interview in the picture).

Well, it is really interesting. So, Indonesian is more Malay than Malay, huh? What do you think?

2 Komentar

  1. Arif, menarik membaca refleksimu. Bahwa Bahasa Indonesia berasal dari Melayu kayaknya kenyataan yang tidak bisa diubah, cuma "Melayu"nya tentu yang menjadi lingua franca sejak abad ke-14 dan tertulis dalam naskah-naskah Melayu kuno itu, bukan yang dipake di Malaysia sekarang ini. Pun bahasa Melayunya Malaysia berasal dari Melayu kuno itu, saya kira.

  2. Ya, saya kira cak oman benar. Mereka menyebutnya sebagai bahasa Melayu dan kita "bahasa Indonesia", tetapi keduanya adalah a later version of old Malay, the one that our fellow Riauans speak dan bahasa Melayu yang ada di kitab-kitab kuno itu... Thanks for the comment


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