Power in/behind Language in Ethnolinguistic Perspective: The Dynamics of Ritual Tradition in Rongga, East Manggarai

Ni Wayan Sumitri, Wayan Arka

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This study examines power within and behind language with reference to the Rongga people in the contemporary East Manggarai context. The focus is on socio-ethnolinguistic aspects as seen in linguistic and non-linguistic forms and cultural value systems reflecting power, the process of acquiring and preserving it in the past and present, and its prospect in the future. This is a qualitative-descriptive study, using an ethnographic approach, supported with data collected by means of interview and documentation. It provides a description and offers a fresh analysis of linguistic capital as part of other kinds of capital (cultural and economic).� The findings show that ritual language linguistically has peculiarities with a high degree of difficulty in terms of poetic and archaic expressions and patterns of rhyme and rhythm.Ethnolinguistically, the ritual language carries messages reflecting socio-cultural values and knowledge, especially in relation to traditional power.� Power within and behind ritual language is acquired and developed naturally through personal qualities (such as ability, skill, and sensitivity in mastering indigenousand linguistic knowledge), with legitimation and recognition of the authority gained by inhereted positions in the traditional social hierarchies. All these form a socio-cultural capital by which one can earn power and respect, driving influence and compliance by fellow members of the community. While shrinking with eroding legitimacy due to modern Indonesian bureaucratic system, the acquisition of traditional power still relies on heredity, combined with ability in mastering ritual language and indigenous knowledge as part of linguistic-cultural capital for various purposes in both traditional and contemporary contexts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)205-215
    JournalMozaik Humaniora
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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