Dr. Sony Sukmawan, M.Pd., a lecturer of the Study Programme of Indonesian Language and Literature Education, Faculty of Cultural Studies (FCS) Universitas Brawijaya (UB) is one of the speakers for the webinar in the framework of the 2021 Language and Literature Festival at Media Indonesia. The webinar with the theme ‘Regional Language Almost Extinct’ was held on Monday (10/25/2021) through the Media Indonesia Facebook account. This theme is a form of concern for linguists for regional languages in Indonesia.

The extinction of regional languages in Indonesia can affect the existence of this nation’s diversity. Sony explains the impact that will occur when the mother tongue becomes extinct.

“When we lose the local language, we will lose the past. We live in three dimensions of the past, present, and future. The past will remain the ordinal point in understanding the future. We can learn from the past and do not repeat the mistakes in the future,” he explained.

The essence of the regional language is in the past, namely if the regional language is lost or extinct, it will be difficult for someone to understand the present and the future. Language has the nature of urgency in everyday life, regional languages will support the integrity of each region.

“We know that Javanese is a medium for conveying language ideas, it also teaches the speakers to behave. The pragmatic view says that the level of the Javanese language is an ineffective speech act as a means of conveying ideas, some say it is complicated, unfamiliar, and not trendy,” he said.

“Javanese can control the speakers’ emotions. When a person speaks in good manners, it will be difficult for him/ her to get angry. Language can control our behavior. Language can show our personality,” he continued.

Regional languages also make a big contribution to the national language. However, Indonesia is currently experiencing a transition to a foreign language. Foreign languages have influenced Indonesian society so that regional languages are experiencing extinction.

“Local languages are one of the largest suppliers of national language vocabulary. But unfortunately, we often take shortcuts when we want to enrich our language. We use the adaptation model using language spelling adjustments and languages that are not local. Even though regional languages have huge potential for us to adapt in using Indonesian,” explained Sony.

“I hope Indonesian can have regional or local content. Language has the right and appropriate usage space. In the formal sphere, the Indonesian language must be encouraged. In the family sphere, we have to get used to the local language. And in the context of international communication, we must understand foreign languages,” he said.

Maintaining the existence of regional languages is the task of all regional speakers themselves. The strategy to protect local languages from extinction can take advantage of the self-help and self-financing that exists in an area.

“I am interested in self-financing and self-reliance of the Tengger people. They do not depend on anyone to preserve the Tengger language. They took the initiative to make English and Tenggerese dictionaries so that foreign tourists could understand Tenggerese. Tengger teenagers as well as the elders compose folk songs in the Tengger language,” he concluded. [DTS/MSH/PR FCS]