Wednesday, May 27, 2009 2:18 AM
Lebay, parno or even mak nyuss are some Indonesian words that you will not find yet in a formal Indonesian dictionary, but many use those in daily conversations.
Those words refer to Indonesian street language for exaggerating, paranoid and yummy, and here media is playing an important role in familiarizing such words.
Professor of Indonesian literature Harimurti Kridalaksana said that such things naturally occurred in the community, either in the archipelago or across the universe.
"It's fine using such words as long as we know when and where we use them. Who knows those words can be put in formal dictionary someday," said the professor from University of Indonesia during a break of a seminar on language and nationalism in his campus.
But formal Indonesian must have always been used when someone wanted to write a scientific writing or maybe talked to an elderly, Harimurti added.
The seminar was part of the commemoration of the first use of Indonesian on May 2 at UI's Faculty of Cultural Science.
Harimurti said many still thought that Indonesian as the nation's language was made official in Youth Pledge (Sumpah Pemuda) on October 28, 1928, but it was actually born during the first Youth Congress on May 2, 1926.
"It was the formal introduction of the national language on that Youth Pledge, the result of the second Youth Congress," said Anhar Gonggong, a historian of UI who was also a speaker at the seminar.
May 2 is also a commemoration of National Education Day.
Besides celebrating the birth of Indonesian language, the event also saw the launching of Harimurti's journal on the journey of the language until it was officially announced as a national language on Youth Pledge.
Anhar cited that besides becoming a self-identity, the language had also become a unitary tool during the pre-independence era as it became a symbol of nationalism.
"But now, despite the emergence of new words in the community, it will not deter one's nationalism. It doesn't base on language anymore," he said.
However, he said, the poor use of language by leaders during a non-text speech could give a bad influence to people.
"If we notice there are many elites who speak messily. This is not good as people are watching them and probably imitate them. This can lead to a language demolition," he said.
All in all, Harimurti suggested anyone to have as many as readings as they could as it would help one's language ability.
"Reading is a passive ability, but in some way it will affect people's active ability, which is speaking. Usually, people who read a lot have high verbal capability," he said, adding that reading habit should then be extremely encouraged.