Diglossia & Code Switching


in Melayu Manado and Bahasa Indonesia

Oleh : Dra. Jenny H. Pakasi, MA

In multilingual country like Indone­sia, the ability to shift from one language to another is accepted as quite normal. Indone­sia has one official language called Bahasa Indonesia ( BI) and approximately 500 other languages. BI is used as a common means of communication among educated people in Indonesia in a formal context. It is mostly used in education, sermons, parlia­ments, political speech, for broadcasting news, radios, TV, for writing books, poetry, fine arts and editorial newspapers.

In this paper I will specify the codes spoken, particularly in Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi Melayu Manado ( MM) used to be a Pidgin or a Creole developed from different source of languages, and more specifically will focus on diglossic and code switching situations existing be­tween the two codes.

There are two distinctions to be made between diglossia and bilingual situation. Hudson (1993) states that diglossia refers to a situation in which one of the varieties ( languages) is never used for interaction in the household, while bilingual refers to the child requiring both varieties at the very early age. He claims that the two varieties in diglossia are normally called “High ” or ” Low”, or “Standard”, or ” Vernacular”.

The concept of diglossia was first in­troduced by the founding father of diglos­sia, the American linguist, Charles Ferguon ( Mejdell, (1987) in Mckay and Hornberger ( 1997).

Ferguon defines diglossia is a rela­tively stable language situation in which the primary dialect of the language ( which may include the standard or regional stan­dards), there is a very divergent, highly codified ( often grammatically more com­plex) superpose variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written litera-

ture, either of an early period or in another speech community, which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and formal spoken purposes but it is not by any sector of the community for ordinary conversation.

In Manado-speaking diglossic com­munity, the language used at home is Ma-layu Manado which different from BI. They are mutually incomprehensible, even though many MM’s words are borrowed from BI. Consequently the way to acquire BI is not by being born into the right fam­ily, but by going to school. This shows that there are still differences between families in their ability to afford education. These persons are a lot better in BI then poor fam­ily. But the use of MM does not show whether the person is from rich or poor family. When speak with family, neighbors, friends, colleges most Manadonese use MM, but when a student speak with a Dean or Rector dealing with office matters most often BI is used but when speak among themselves they switch from one code to another code. But in informal situation they might use MM even when speak with a dean or a rector.

The choice of MM or mixed code de­pends on whether the person shares the same language group or not. When a person does not share the same language group even he/she is Indonesian, then BI will be the language used. Mckay et.al. call this situation code switching. In Manado, the educated people use MM mostly in infor­mal situation. In formal situation sometimes people switch or mix both codes especially when addressing the mass society.

In one occasion, one may lecture in BI but may answer questions or explain about its contents in MM. For, example when I teach English, I usually switch from English to MM or BI especially in giving instruction or explain some difficult words. Mix code often occurs in making a speech in formal situation especially the use of MM. I think MM is more dominant than BI for most Manadonese. Basically in all in­formal situation MM is mostly used.

It may happen, a lather speaks to a child using BI rather than MM to show he is very angry “Silahkan Masuk Keke” ( please come in ). In other occasion, like in the market people will never use BI to ask the price ” Berapakah buku ini ? (BI), in MM, ” brapa depe harga”? ” How much does this book cost?”. It does not mean peo­ple do not understand the language but h is not appropriate. The choice of the varieties is more to do with the appropriateness is­sues.

The Attitudes of Manadoneses people towards the codes.

In general the use of MM is to show our own distinctive unifying variety of Manadonese one which we take pride in. For example when I first met an old man who has been in Canada for about 16 years, we were talking in English but then when he knew that I am from Manado, he directly change the code to show his social solidar­ity. Another example, when I was in Philip­pines with a group of Indonesian young people who come from all parts of Indone­sia, with different language background. I met a young Manadonese who has been in Philippines for long time. He knew from my family name that I am from Manado but I did not know he is Manadonese so I spoke with him using good BI but he skeptically answered me in MM, ” pake jo kwa bahasa Manado, so lupa so?” means why don’t you use MM, have you forgotten your own lan­guage. This shows that the use of MM indi­cates social solidarity among Manadonese.

The Effect of the Codes

The use of language codes can pro­duce other effect on other languages. In this

case the dominant of the use of MM in ordi­nary conversation affects our way of writ­ing. In educational settings, when one lan­guage is dominant then automatically will affect other language. The problem is as a university lecturer, we are obliged to use BI correctly. Most often when a Manadonese study outside Manado then they have to use real BI in writing their paper. Most often lecturers outside Manado have difficulties figuring out our writing since it usually mix with MM style. It is true that we have to write in good and appropriate BI but it is difficult to get rid of it even though, most books, references, and journals are all writ­ten in BI.

In other words having two varieties (languages) in a community might also have negative effect.

It is a convention that we should use the official language in all formal situation especially in writing academic paper, on the other hand government encourage peo­ple to maintain the local language or dia­lects which are often not the written lan­guage but spoken language varieties that might easily disappear someday. One good attention by government, in 1970’s they allocated more money on language research and development of the local dialects/ va­rieties to maintain the rich local dialects. Most of the state universities in Indonesia, the linguistic students are encouraged to do research and write books or thesis on their local varieties. The existing varieties help enrich the official language (BI). Until now the government and schools are working together to maintain the use of local varie­ties. They are now popularized through soap operas on TV, popular programs on the Radios, in captions on political cartoons and in local newspaper. Our government and schools always conduct speech contests in local dialects or language especially on the national day.

In conclusion, in code switching there is always good and negative effects but the most important thing in code switching is not what language/varieties do you use but

in what situation do you use and when to use the language appropriately. Mixed codes refers to speech forms which do not seem to fell into pattern of ” high versus Low variety dichotomy as described in the sociolinguistic model as diglossia. As Bloomfield ( 1983) distinguish between a high prestige language, which he called the upper language and the language of domi­nant which he termed the lower language.

In my opinion, MM has high status among the people who share the same lan­guage group. As a matter effect assessing a low and high status from one code to an­other should not be linguistically valued judgment. As a speaker of both varieties, Malayu Manado and Bahasa Indonesia have equal values. The choice between those va­rieties depend on variety of the factors, lo-

cation (city, country), formality ( intimacy, serious) and type of activity. The choice of one code is obviously related to the situa­tion when to use them and whether it is ap­propriate or not


Hudson, R.A. (1996). Sociolinguistics. New York. CUP

Mckay, S.L. and Hornberger, N.H. (1997). Sociolinguistics and Language Teach­ing. New York. CUP

Noorduyn,!. (1991). A Critical Survey of Studies on the Language of Sulawesi. Leiden KITLV Press.

Wolfson, N. (1989) Perspective Sociolin­guistics and TESOL. Boston: Heinle and Heinle Publisher.


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