Tenggat, canggih, kudapan, and penyelia

Anton M. Moeliono has been dubbed the guru of all gurus, the pereksa (the guardian) and champion of the Indonesian language. Some call him a creative neologist; others refer to him simply as “the walking dictionary”. He is probably the most progressive scholar who painstakingly fights to preserve the Indonesian language as well as the archipelago’s hundreds of dialects. His preference for Indonesian words was deemed by many as an attempt to instill a purist attitude to language.

Those who accuse me of being purist just don’t understand what the word means,” says the language expert.

“My philosophy is to make the use of expressions, words and grammar consistent among language users. I want to codify and streamline the use of our language. The more streamlined the language is, the easier it is to learn and to use it as a means of communication.

“My recommendation to use Indonesian words instead of foreign ones doesn’t mean I dislike foreign words. I’m not against borrowing. If the concept cannot be replaced, I’d be happy to import.”

He concedes that sometimes “foreign words sound better than local [Indonesian] words” and replaces them only if used incorrectly. “Words borrowed from foreign languages, such as efektif and efisien, sound okay to me, compared to their respective equivalents mangkus and sangkil.”

Many of the words and expressions he has coined are now in common everyday use, such as tenggat (deadline), canggih (sophisticated), kudapan (snack), and penyelia (supervisor).

“I was once called by the secretary of the minister of industry, who asked me, on the minister’s behalf, to find the Indonesian equivalent of the English word ‘engineering’. I told her to give me seven minutes to think about it before calling me back,” Anton says.

“Having referred to a number of Indonesian dictionaries, I came up with the word rekayasa, and the minister was happy.”

Of course, not all his suggestions convinced the public. “I once proposed the English word ‘catering’ be replaced by jasa boga, but nobody seems to use it.”

Summarised from The Jakarta Post: Anton M. Moeliono: The walking dictionary -http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/10/28/anton-m-moeliono-the-walking-dictionary.html

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