Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 15:56 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 15:56 | SYDNEY

Reader ripostes: My 'Bahasa' error


Sam Roggeveen


6 June 2008 11:40

Two responses to my post from yesterday, on Barack Obama's Indonesian language skills. This from Lucy:

This is just a note on a common mistake that you have made in calling the Indonesian language 'Bahasa'. 'Bahasa' means 'language', and it is therefore nonsensical to use it in your headline, which translates as 'language doesn't count', or to indicate the Indonesian language, especially as this could also imply a reference to Bahasa Melayu (which is similar but recognised as a distinct language). I would suggest using 'Bahasa Indonesia' or just 'Indonesian' in the future.

Got it. Thanks Lucy. And Nick Goodwin says:

The French arrogance and lack of American focus on Obama's Indonesian skills (which most suspect are pretty limited) come from two different perspectives. One is French ignorance due to a natural focus on Europe; the second is Obama would be taking a huge risk promoting his links to the largest majority Muslim country in the world. But I hope one day he sees the importance of it.

The Obama reference and many others highlight a key opportunity and necessity for Australia — to be the most Asia-literate country in the collective West. Not my words, but probably the most important thing that our PM said at the Asia Society dinner. And he said it twice. All the attention was on the announcement of the Asia Pacific Community/Union, but as Keating learned to his detriment, unless you educate Australians on Asia they won't join you on the ride into our region.

PS. 'Bahasa' just means 'language'. Can everyone please refer to the Indonesian language as 'Bahasa Indonesia' or just 'Indonesian'.