We have been here a few months now and are very slowly picking up the language. Bahasa (meaning, `language`) Indonesia is the common language of Indonesia where there are said to be over 800 languages. Many people will speak/understand Indonesian as well as speaking their local language.
Indonesian is said to be not too difficult a language to learn for westerners. It is a simpler language than english, norwegian, spanish, and certainly chinese. It uses the latin script, and uses the same alphabet as english. Verbs don`t change when the tense changes. Plurals are easy. `Anak` means `child`; `Anak-anak` means `children`. The grammar is relatively straightforward.
Indonesian is a form of the Malay (Malaysian) language actually, so once one is learned then the other can be understood…maybe a bit like norwegian, danish and swedish. The dutch ruled Indonesia as a colony for some time and there is a hint of dutch in the language. Yet there are also words that are very similar to english. The term, `office boy` would be said `opis boy` in Indonesian. Likewise `coffee` is `copi` (not to be confused with `foto kopi` which means `photocopy`), `book` is `buku`.
There are also Arabic/Turkic influences in Indonesian, which is not surprising due to Indonesia having the largest muslim population of any country in the world. `Bible` is `Kitab Injil` whereas in turkish it is, `Kitap Incil`. But what is surprising is that there are some words that are the same as in norwegian. `Aunt` in indonesian is `tante`, exactly like in norwegian. Likewise `kran` (tap/faucet) in norwegian is identical in indonesian. As is almost `sekering`, `sikring` (fuse) in norwegian.
You do have to be careful when you see some words that don`t translate to what you think they would. The abbreviation, `KLM` is not the royal dutch airline that is based in Amsterdam. No, this means `motorized sailing boat`. Likewise `Nato` does not mean North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It means `certified to be a true copy by…`.
But however easy indonesian is supposed to be, it is actually quite challenging for us. 95% of indonesian words are completely new and not easy to remember. In addition, people speak very fast, and there are many different dialects. We are studying bahasa indonesian, but here the people speak bahasa Kupang. How different that is from the book, we are yet to find out.
We have the challenge of learning a new language, but the boys have to learn 2 new languages (english and indonesian). Joakim, and especially Erik, have really improved in their understanding and speaking of my mother tongue (it is ironic that we have to move to West Timor for the boys to learn english 🙂 ). They are spoken a lot to in english, whereas Daniel is taught predominantly in Indonesian. We, actually would prefer if they were just taught in Indonesian, as they will come to learn english anyway. However, this puts Daniel at an advantage with the local language. At times we ask him what someone has said, and he says they said this and that. Sometimes it does seem pretty clear that he does understand some things said to him. He however, says that he understands EVERYTHING that is said to him in indonesian. Well…
So we are working on learning bahasa Indonesia. However, on the island of Timor are spoken many other languages that are not the same as Indonesian. Some of these languages are said to be as different as english and chinese. A few of these languages are just starting to get the Bible translated into their own mother tongue.
Just a short update about the meeting at the university. Thankyou to all those who prayed, we really appreciate that. The meeting went very well and it became very clear to us not to accept this teaching position. However, it could be that this meeting opens up other possibilities for the future…