Local languages, local Malay, and Bahasa Indonesia; A case study from North Maluku

Wacana: Journal of the Humanities of Indonesia. 2012;14(2):312-332 DOI 10.17510/wjhi.v14i2.65


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Wacana: Journal of the Humanities of Indonesia

ISSN: 1411-2272 (Print); 2407-6899 (Online)

Publisher: University of Indonesia

Society/Institution: University of Indonesia, Faculty of Humanities

LCC Subject Category: General Works

Country of publisher: Indonesia

Language of fulltext: Indonesian, English

Full-text formats available: PDF



John Bowden (local director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology’s Jakarta Field Station)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 21 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Many small languages from eastern Indonesia are threatened with extinction. While it is often assumed that ‘Indonesian’ is replacing the lost languages, in reality, local languages are being replaced by local Malay. In this paper I review some of the reasons for this in North Maluku. I review the directional system in North Maluku Malay and argue that features like the directionals allow those giving up local languages to retain a sense of local linguistic identity. Retaining such an identity makes it easier to abandon local languages than would be the case if people were switching to ‘standard’ Indonesian.