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Malay and other languages of insular Southeast Asia

(2,454 words)

Author(s): Wieringa, Edwin P.
Malay is an Austronesian language spoken by most inhabitants of insular Southeast Asia. It is the national language of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei and one of the national languages of Singapore. From the twentieth century on, it has been known officially and popularly as Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language, Indonesian) and Bahasa Malaysia (Malaysian language, Malaysian). It is diglossic, with a formal and standard form of the language used in government and education and for all official matters, and …
Date: 2021-07-19


(1,371 words)

Author(s): Wieringa, Edwin P.
Pegon is a modified form of Arabic script that is used in the Javanese cultural zone for writing Javanese, but also Sundanese, Madurese, and even—though very rarely—Balinese (namely one manuscript kept in Leiden University Library, Cod. Or. 4716). Etymologically, the term derives from the Javanese pego, meaning “strange” (with respect to pronunciation), whereas the (Javanese) homonymous word pegon means “foreign” or “strange.” This script has the same adjustments made for writing Malay, known as Jawi, that is, the five consonants of /p/, /c/, /ng/, /n…
Date: 2021-05-25

Fable, animal, in Muslim Southeast Asia

(1,387 words)

Author(s): Wieringa, Edwin P.
Many of the animal fables in the two major literary traditions of Muslim Southeast Asia —Malay and Javanese—are translations and/or adaptations from foreign sources, primarily Arabic, Persian, and Indian, and, in the modern period, European. These works belong to the genre of edifying literature, designed to regulate the behaviour of Muslims (Braginsky, 340–1). They generally consist of collections of relatively short stories with animal characters endowed with human qualities, intended to teach moral lessons…
Date: 2021-07-19

Poetry in Southeast Asia

(2,474 words)

Author(s): Wieringa, Edwin P.
Traditional forms of poetry in insular Southeast Asia are known in hundreds of languages and are both oral and written. Most of those languages have extensive oral poetic traditions, including such forms as riddles, proverbs, spells, and lyrical prose (Brakel; Kemp). Only a few, however, have longstanding written literatures: Malay, a supraregional language that became the national language of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei; the languages of Sumatra (Acehnese, Minangkabau, Batak); the langu…
Date: 2023-01-04