So I’m at Gajah Mada University, Yogyakarta, for the final event in Opera’s Indonesian tour.
The national language of Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia (bahasa means “language” — in Thai the same word is “Pasa”). Zi Bin says it’s very similar to Bahasa Malaysian, so he’s been impressing the local ladies with his ability to woo quadralingually).
It reminds me very much of Turkish (my third language) because they’re both spelled phonetically, with the letter “c” pronounced as English “j”, and “ay” is pronounced “I/ eye”, but mostly because of the number of English words they borrowed: taksi, polisi, republik, informasi, politeknik, teknoloji, kharisma spring immediately to mind from Bahasa. (This borrowing isn’t all one sided; English borrowed “rambutan” and “Orang-Utan” from Bahasa Indonesia.)
Most Bahasa words remain mysterious yet mellifluous to me. My current favourite is the fun-to-say “dilarang” which rather prosaically means “forbidden”, such as “dilarang merokok” (no smoking) or “dilarang masuk” (no entry).
This homegrown word can be combined to pleasant effect with borrowed words. In a residential neighbourhood I saw the sigh “dilarang klakson” which means, of course, “Don’t sound your horn”- combining English/ Bahasa linguistic miscegenation with naïve optimism, given Indonesian drivers’ love affair with the “klakson”