Writers often claim that Indonesians like to use western loanwords for reasons of prestige, to enhance their own status. This is certainly one important motivation for using some of those words. However we should not hastily assume that prestige is the primary motivation at work when a speaker uses a western synonym, because speakers have other important motivations for using them as well. First, people use western synonyms to convey nuances of meaning. Second, people who are highly familiar with English have a psycholinguistic motivation for using western loans: the impulse to reproduce semantic distinctions that they perceive to exist in English. Third, even when a non-western word would convey the desired meaning accurately, speakers might still choose a western synonym instead because of our aesthetic-emotional need to vary our linguistic means of expression. The last part of the paper presents results of a survey showing that some Indonesian university students seem to have a fairly modest knowledge of western synonyms that occur in public discourse. That finding has implications for the earlier claims of the paper. While we should not lightly assert that a given western synonym is used to show off, a formal style of Indonesian marked by these words does constitute an elite speech code, given that only a small minority of Indonesians seem to have a truly good command of them.
|Title of host publication||Geliat Bahasa Selaras Zaman:Perubahan Bahasa-bahasa di Indonesia Pasca-Orde baru (How Language Changes in Harmony with the Times)|
|Editors||Mikihiro Moriyama and Manneke Budiman|
|Place of Publication||Jakarta|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|