Tuesday, October 30, 2012

F*** the V*****!

Do I get your attention now? Yes? Good. Now I'm telling you the big secret: the title is not what you think ;-) Well, in a way, it is. But it isn't. I'll tell you more when I've finished.

The reason I wrote this article is: this morning I played "Grammar Nazi" to someone. Again. This friend wrote "aktifitas" and "efektifitas" as a substitute for "activity" and "effectivity" in Bahasa Indonesia. This is wrong, since the right term in Bahasa Indonesia is "aktivitas" and "efektivitas". Use the V-word, although we end the word original adjective with an F.

Then a friend of this friend commented back:

Saya perlu guru bahasa Indonesia juga nih. Kata2 serapan itu aturan tatabahasanya gimana sih? Inggrisnya: "active" > "activist", "effective"> "effectivity", dalam bahasa Indonesia, repotnya kita menghindari huruf "v" tapi tidak kosisten... jadi bingung deh.

That what set me off and triggered this article ;-)

OK, let's start with what our founding father, Ir. Soekarno, our first president said: JAS MERAH. Literally means "red jacket", this word is actually abbreviation from  Jangan Sekali-kali Meningggalkan Sejarah (Don't ever leave our history). That's the first thing that set me off ;-)

Well... we did have our brief history with the British Empire. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles was here for approximately 3 years. One of our national flowers, Rafflesia Arnoldii, was named after him. And he buried his first wife here. But that's it! Our history with the Brits is as short as, but not as (traumatically) memorable as, our history with the Japs.

So, it will be a numero uno mistake to try understanding our language with the reference to theirs. We don't have that connection ;-) Not like the Malaysians. Or Singaporeans. Probably for that same reasons, many kids of my generation still refer to Raffles as "ruff-less", instead of sounding like "battles" ;-)

In relation to Jas Merah, we actually should refer our understanding of Bahasa Indonesia to Dutch. Yes. Dutch. We were their colony for three and a half bloody centuries.... so, yes, that is the language we should refer to in understanding our language.

Mind you, once we relate those words with Dutch, it makes PERFECT SENSE why we should use "aktivitas" and "efektivitas" instead of "aktifitas" and "efektifitas". In Dutch, the words are like this (check it on Babelfish, or just google them ;-)):

  • Effektief, and it will change into effectiviteit
  • Actief, and it will change into activiteit

So, should we still hang on to the Dutch, while "English is the new Dutch"? Hmmm.... I don't think it's a matter of what language rules now. It's a matter of root. A tree might grow into different mutation. But we cannot change the root, can we? It's always "root before branches". As FinChel of Glee sang:
Oh, why do
I reach for the stars
When I don't have wings
To carry me that far?
I gotta have
Roots before branches
To know who I am
Before I know
Who I wanna be

To know who I am, before I know who I wanna be ;-)

I love my root. And it is heartfelt to see many of the younger generations do not know how to speak proper Bahasa Indonesia anymore :-(

How can they reach for the stars, if they don't have the wings to carry them that far?

So... what the F*** is the title about? Well... one of the possibilities is: "Find the Verses" ;-) What verses? Hmmm... that song I attached has verses, right ;-)? The verse about root, and branches, and wings, and stars....


Find the Verses... and live by it, will you?

Credit Title: Thanks to Mas R and Mbak B for the inspiration ;-)