Dr. Lauren Zentz, Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Houston, is currently showing her support for Indonesia’s local languages which are getting progressively disregarded after the promotion of English in the country.
Javanese Language and People
The message Dr. Zentz is sending is one to promote love for local languages, as a result of her personal experiences in Indonesia, where she travelled for the first time in 2008. The Javanese language is the language of the Javanese people, who live in central and eastern parts of Indonesia. Javanese is the mother tongue of around 100,000,000 citizens, almost half of the population of the country. The language comprises several styles: Ngoko is used to refer to informal language used in everyday life, while Krama is used to refer to the polite, formal style.
According to Dr Zentz, when asked if they could speak Javanese, most locals would quickly reply they could not. However, after further inquiries, Dr Zentz found that what they meant was they could not speak Krama, but could easily resort to Ngoko, their everyday language. The original answer was a consequence of their not regarding Ngoko as a language, but rather as ordinary daily talk. To their eyes, Krama seemed harder to learn and altogether less accessible, although the majority confessed they would be happy to learn it.
Dr Zentz is most concerned with younger generations increasingly switching to English and Indonesian languages, instead of using Krama. However, she clarified that this does not necessarily mean that the language is disappearing, stating that language gets passed on to the younger generations when it is spoken every day in community interactions.
Dr Lauren Zentz
Dr Lauren Zentz is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Houston in United States, and can speak English, French and Indonesian fluently. She participated in UNESCO’s project to help children develop functional literacy in West Java.
Dr Zentz’s research is focused mainly on languages and language use, speakers’ identity and language policies in a globalized world. She also investigates speakers’ motivation in their second language. Her doctoral project dealt with the topic of motivation among English university students in Indonesia and its relationship to global language trends and Indonesia’s education system.