Skip to comments.To Save Its Dying Tongue, Indonesian Isle Orders Out for Korean
Posted on 09/12/2009 11:14:53 AM PDT by BGHater
Its Spoken Language Fading, Buton Tries a Script From Seoul That Has Global Ambitions
SORAWOLIO, Indonesia -- In an elementary school here on the remote Indonesian island of Buton, a teacher named Abidin recently began to show students how to write their endangered native language -- in the Korean alphabet.
Mr. Abidin carefully copied some Korean letters from a textbook onto the blackboard and asked his fourth-grade class what they spelled in their Cia-Cia tongue, a Malayo-Polynesian language related to others spoken across Indonesia.
"I eat fish," they replied in unison.
The students know little about Korea, 3,500 miles north of their home here. Until a few months ago, none had met a Korean and most still have trouble locating the Korean peninsula on the world map pinned to the wall of the dusty schoolroom.
But the students have become the latest guinea pigs in a quest by South Korean linguists to demonstrate that the world would be a better place if just a few more people used the Korean script known as Hangeul.
Koreans are extremely proud of Hangeul, invented by a Korean king in the 1400s. And they are determined to win it a broader following abroad -- challenging Chinese characters and the ubiquitous Roman alphabet. The main target: ethnic minorities whose own languages have no writing of their own and are in danger of dying.
The Cia-Cia are a group of former hunter-gatherers from the mountains of Buton who now make up the island's poorest subsistence farmers. To entice them to use Hangeul, linguists from Seoul National University offered to produce a version of the script, adapted to the sounds of Cia-Cia (pronounced chee-ah chee-ah), and provide textbooks and crash courses in using the alphabet, which is entirely new to the Cia-Cia.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
With it’s shape and only 24 Characters it sure looks easier than the Chinese or other Asian Alphabets.
...their Cia-Cia tongue, a Malayo-Polynesian language related to others spoken across Indonesia. "I eat fish," they replied in unison