31 January 2008

Language - A Real Trendsetter...


Now here's one for all you language purists out there in cyberspace from a budding Indonesian soap star of mixed parentage...

I am proud that I am not fluent in Indonesian and I hope that my style of talking (accent - red) will become a trend and my identity...which was followed by this verbatim quote "I do not feel embarassed when I am being teased while I speak, I hope that how I talk can be followed by other kids. This is who I am ... this is natural!"

Sounds like that her parents have her head screwed on pretty well with the 'this is who I am ... this is natural' part of the quote, but all the same, pride in mediocrity? Yet, I guess as a 14 year old you have that kind of self-belief as the big bad and nasty world has yet to bring its full weight onto your young shoulders!

Nah, let's face it
Cinta Laura Kiehl is the product of a mixed marriage where her father as a result of his work travelled frequently and much of, if not all, her education was in English. The old man is German so perhaps she speaks German as well, who knows?

Language is a living thing and it changes over time as new words become part of the lexicon. Indonesia is well-known for sub-languages, such as Bahasa Gaul (social or hanging-out language), Bahasa Preman (literally the language of criminals), and amalgamations of all the various languages and dialects that permeate this vast archipelago blended into the national language.

Bahasa Gaul and Bahasa Preman are more languages in their own right than dialects so perhaps Cinta Laura sees herself as being the creator and founder of another kind of sub-language based on the inability to speak proper Indonesian...

I give her credit for the fact that she has learned some Bahasa and obviously this is more than enough to get her a job in an Indonesian soap opera but there is nothing to be proud of in not being fluent in the language of your family on your mother's side. I have no problem with people who speak Bahasa with a foreign accent. Many of my friends who are long-term residents speak as much Bahasa, if not more, than Cinta Laura and they continue to have the inflections and tones of their native languages. But none of them have at least one parent who is Indonesian and none of them are soap stars and none of them are looked up to as model speakers or representatives of Indonesian culture or language. This is not to say that Cinta Laura is viewed in these ways, but when your country tells you it is important to be able to read, write, and speak proper and correct Indonesian then to be proud not to do so seems strange, perhaps even bizarre!

The reality is soap operas are not real but they follow many social norms and dictate others. Is it any wonder that you hear politicians reverting to slang and Bahasa Gaul at official functions? Yet, if soap operas are only to entertain and not to educate then:

Who cares?

I will still get a smile on my dial every time I hear Cinta Laura speak and remember to dedicate myself to the task of making sure my kids, if and when they come along, speak proper Indonesian in the proper places. They can learn the language of their peers from their peers because I am not gonna be able to help them on that front, then again I can always ask for Cinta Laura's help as the language trendsetter for kids of mixed marriages!

8 comments:

Andina said...

I posted a link to your blog in my blog.. love your articles..

Rob Baiton said...

Thanks...

What's your blog address? So, I can return the favour!

uglybelong said...

Wew, nice article
But I hate Cinta Laura

Rob Baiton said...

I really think I should start with "Dear Ugly"...but I am laughing at just the thought of it. I am not laughing at you by the way but rather the idea of calling someone ugly!

Yet, the premise of your pen name is a good one, as even us ugly people "belong"!

Look, I do not hate Cinta Laura and I think that is clear from my post! The point though is that language is a living thing and it chages over time!

The direction that Cinta Laura wants to take it in is a direction that will take it a long way away from the 'proper and correct Indonesian' that is so often promoted in schools and society here as the way Indonesians should talk and write.

There are already sub-languages here that she could tap into if she wanted to as a means of finding a forum in which to express herself...Bahasa gaul being one such example.

The other really funny thing for me with Cinta Laura is the statement that she is going to go to Australia to brush up on her current Indonesian language skills and to learn more.

There are plenty of excellent Indonesian language teachers in Australia. A hard working and dedicated bunch (maybe one day I will be one of them?)...

But, I would have thought if you really wanted to learn Indonesian that the best place for that would have been Indonesia...

Argh...the modern world! You want to learn the language of Indonesia and you go to Australia to do it, bizarre...

uglybelong, thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you commenting again soon :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Rob,

I would like to clarify that Cinta Laura has never stated that she is proud not to be able to speak Indonesian. She has really been working hard in order to improve her vocabulary and accent. At first she was absolutely angry due to the fact that people kept on teasing her about the way she talked. However, she was eventually surprised of how people started to follow this so called "trend". It spread like a virus,thus, she has also never said that she wanted to polish her Indonesian in Australia. If she wanted to learn the language, she would obviously learn it in the country itself. We are wondering incredibly of where such quote originated from and how it spread that easily.

Sincerely,
Ermawan (Spokesperson: Cinta Laura)

Rob Baiton said...

Ermawan...

Thanks for the clarification! I would only have a couple of points in response:

1. Where there is smoke there is fire. The Internet has a habit of fanning the smoke where even the smallest snippets of information can explode into much bigger than they really are stories.

2. If the focus on these quotes that are not really quotes is an issue for Cinta then she could get on all the gossip shows, she could get into the celebrity magazines, she could PR this thing by getting on the record and refuting publicly all that is being said.

However, judging by her current popularity, it would seem that most people really do not care one way or the other about her Indonesian language skills or where she might improve them as she obviously has enough skills for Indonesian soap operas and advertising gurus to hire her!

All up the language skills are nothing more than a diversion that gives people something else to talk about!

reinhardjambi said...

ha ha ha lol

Mister robs syenang jhuga cinchha laura....

syaiya jhuga loooh, please deh...

Rob Baiton said...

Reinhard...

Not really! Just find it amusing! But I guess small things amuse small minds and that is why I find it funny :D

On a personal and a professional level it amkes no difference to me whether she speaks good Indonesian or not, but it is a good lesson in cultivating fame!

Enjoy your weekend and my apologies for taking so long to respond...missed your comment way back when you made it!