The other day I found a site called Nobukaze which contains some interesting information about Japanese history, samurai, pop culture, language and a variety of other weird and wonderful Japan-related topics. There’s also some information about the Indonesian and Javanese languages and writing systems, and a guide to “Java for the Absolutely Clueless“.

The Indonesian language section mentions that there is very little mutual intelligibility between Malaysian and Indonesian, mainly because of differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. Indonesian has apparently borrowed numerous words from Javanese, which are unfamiliar to speakers of Malaysian. Does anyone speak Malaysian? Can you understand Indonesian? Or vice-versa.

Another interesting page on this site explains the origins of Japanese names. Did you know that the Japanese didn’t have individual names for their rivers and other geographical features? People might have called the stretch of a river that flowed by them by one name, while their neighbours further downstream had a different name for their stretch of river. There were no names that applied to rivers as a whole, at least until the 16th century, when Portuguese missionaries apparently forced the Japanese to adopt overall names for rivers, seas, etc, so that a map of Japan could be produced for the Pope.

This entry was posted in Japanese, Language.

One Response to Nobukaze

  1. Wan Zafran says:

    Hi. I’m a Malaysian, and I’d like to respond to this question of yours: “Can you understand Indonesian?”

    It depends, really. In Malaysia, we employ a certain ‘formal’ form of the Malay language, which is called the ‘Bahasa Baku’, for writing purposes, and, with the exception of speeches and debating events, little else. (To simplify things, you may choose to think of ‘Bahasa Baku’ as the equivalent of ‘fus-hah’ (formal) Arabic, which the Arabs prefer not to use save when necessary or in formal settings.)

    Instead, colloquial conversations in our daily lives are based on regional accents. And sometimes, dialects. These accents and dialects may be and can range from sounding ‘different’ (e.g. the Kedah dialect) to slightly offbeat (but still intelligible, e.g. the dialect of some parts of Negeri Sembilan) or downright incomprehensible for non-speakers (e.g. the dialect of the state of Kelantan). However, there is a certain colloquial ‘accent’ that most Malaysians would understand, used mainly in Kuala Lumpur, the country’s main city. (Which, ironically, isn’t even its own — rather, as I’ve been informed, it’s derived from another state’s accent (Johor-Riau, to be more specific).)

    As to whether we are able to understand Indonesian or not, here’s a quickie answer: well, some of us can.

    I must make it clear however that we can only understand the Indonesian language, and only because it shares many similarities with the Malay language, although it is pronounced differently (their colloquial form sounds very much like ‘Bahasa Baku’ to us) and that certain words possess different connotations.

    On the other hand, some of the many dialects of the inhabitants of the Indonesian archipelago are completely inaccessible to us. These dialects employ different grammatical and lexicological sets, some of which (in speech) can’t even be traced to the Indonesian language itself. And there are many such dialects too.

    I hope I’ve answered your question.

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