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Project Members

  • Uri Tadmor

The Phonology of Jakarta Indonesian

Given the importance of Jakarta Indonesian, it was surprising that its phonology had never been systematically described and analyzed. This project aimed to correct this situation.

Of all varieties of Malay-Indonesian, Jakarta Indonesian probably has the largest number of native speakers. It is based on Betawi, the language of the indigenous inhabitants of Jakarta, but has been influenced by formal Indonesian. In addition to serving as an interethnic koine in and around Jakarta, it is also the first language of most people born in the city since the middle of the 20th century. Jakarta Indonesian is now rapidly becoming the language of choice for educated urban speakers throughout Indonesia, and is also widely used on radio and television as well as in films. A written style of Jakarta Indonesian is used in youth magazines, Internet chats, and even a daily newspaper.

It should be emphasized, however, that in addition to its intrinsic importance, Jakarta Indonesian also exhibits a number of unique phonological patterns not attested in other varieties of Malay-Indonesian. Often, these patterns are due to the influence of neighboring languages, such as Javanese and Sundanese. We aimed to describe the inventory of segments, allophonic and morpho-phonemic alternations, and prosodic system, as well as the major phonological processes of Jakarta Indonesian. Particular attention was paid to patterns of variation.