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Language Shift

Nimbus

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It's no secret that Indonesians tend to be indirect, so euphemisms are common. When a word becomes common, it is no longer soft or polite enough, so a new word is invented for the purpose.

Back in the 70's (probably even the 80's) it was normal to refer to your household staff as 'babu' and 'jongos'. To soften these colonial terms, the word 'pembantu' was used. That was a perfectly polite generic word, until it's used almost exclusively for domestic helpers. Now the preferred polite term is 'asisten', an adoption of the English 'assistant'.

Give it a couple more decades and another word will be appropriated for it. Maybe 'household manager' or just 'manager'.
 

Puspawarna

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Interesting. I thought the term "PRT" (acronym for pembantu rumah tangga) was becoming more popular. Though I think the staid old expat community still uses "pembantu" most of the time.
 

nd_eric_77

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It's no secret that Indonesians tend to be indirect, so euphemisms are common. When a word becomes common, it is no longer soft or polite enough, so a new word is invented for the purpose.

Back in the 70's (probably even the 80's) it was normal to refer to your household staff as 'babu' and 'jongos'. To soften these colonial terms, the word 'pembantu' was used. That was a perfectly polite generic word, until it's used almost exclusively for domestic helpers. Now the preferred polite term is 'asisten', an adoption of the English 'assistant'.

Give it a couple more decades and another word will be appropriated for it. Maybe 'household manager' or just 'manager'.
I think the word pembantu literally means "helper", as the word membantu means to help. It is certainly still polite to use the word pembantu, despite what Social Justice Warriors claim. In fact, I have never heard of a pembantu being called an asisten; that kind of sounds like Dwight Schrute is one's pembantu. In more casual contexts, a pembantu is referred to as "an mbak".
 

dafluff

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I have heard the job described as "Asisten Rumah Tangga". Which really is the same as "Pembantu Rumah Tangga". Pembantu is the Indonesian word for Assistant. Another use of the word for example, is for government Ministers: Pembantu Presiden.
 

Nimbus

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The word 'pembantu' in my circle is still used, but it's no longer polite enough to be used in the presence of said person. When I was a kid, I was discouraged from referring to our helpers as "ini pembantu saya". We would just refer to them directly by name like "kalau mau makan minta sama Mbak Yanti ya?" (If you'd like to eat, please ask Mbak Yanti). People would understand what we mean by inference.

PRT is one of those quasi-official acronyms that Indonesians like to use, because 'P' alone for 'pembantu' is too short and not specific enough. Now it turns into AST.

Nobody referred to a pembantu as an asisten until recently. The word asisten was usually reserved for lofty positions like "Asisten Dosen" or "Asisten Menteri".
 

jstar

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Asisten Rumah Tangga
This. It is used already for many years in my family-in-law. (I guess you're gone for quite some time Nimbus.)

Every time my spouse hears babu in old emigrated Indonesian circles in Holland, she cringes.
 

R Cameron

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Interesting. I thought the term "PRT" (acronym for pembantu rumah tangga) was becoming more popular. Though I think the staid old expat community still uses "pembantu" most of the time.
I have heard PRT and was told it was pekerja rumah tangga. According to the Indonesian Wikipedia entry, it's both, and it also mentions the use of Asisten Rumah Tangga, which was new to me reading this thread.
 

dafluff

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Another weird shift that I am still getting adjusted to is that people no longer use the second person, "kamu" and "anda". Somehow the first is seen as rude, and the second as too aloof. So now people refer to each other in conversation in the third person (ie by name), or indirect words like "bapak" or "ibu".

For example rather than "Itu mobil kamu ya?", people say "Itu mobil Mbak Dian ya?" when you are actually talking to Mbak Dian.

Or "Mobil anda sudah siap, becomes "Mobil bapak sudah siap".
 

jstar

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You can also see the old Colonial words disappearing somewhat. The Dutch words slowly but gradually get replaced by more 'pure' or even English words.

Ik can think of arloji for instance, from horloge of course.
And nobody says pakansie anymore, from vakantie.
An old uncle in Holland still says (hot)perdom.

I guess the anglicizing is a worldwide phenomenom though. If I listen to teenagers speaking my own language, it becomes a big mix.
 

Nimbus

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This. It is used already for many years in my family-in-law. (I guess you're gone for quite some time Nimbus.)

Every time my spouse hears babu in old emigrated Indonesian circles in Holland, she cringes.
My parents until quite recently still used 'pembantu' between ourselves, but yesterday my mom started using the word 'asisten' even in a closed group.
 

Nimbus

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Another weird shift that I am still getting adjusted to is that people no longer use the second person, "kamu" and "anda". Somehow the first is seen as rude, and the second as too aloof. So now people refer to each other in conversation in the third person (ie by name), or indirect words like "bapak" or "ibu".

For example rather than "Itu mobil kamu ya?", people say "Itu mobil Mbak Dian ya?" when you are actually talking to Mbak Dian.

Or "Mobil anda sudah siap, becomes "Mobil bapak sudah siap".
That shift was due to Suharto's Javanization, including the term 'bapak', 'ibu', 'mas', and 'mbak'. Old movies from the 70's and early 80's still used 'tuan' and 'nyonya'.

I very rarely use the word 'kamu' and 'anda' for as long as I can remember. In Jakarta between friends it's always 'lu', then straight to honorifics for everyone else.
 

jstar

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Another weird shift that I am still getting adjusted to is that people no longer use the second person, "kamu" and "anda". Somehow the first is seen as rude, and the second as too aloof. So now people refer to each other in conversation in the third person (ie by name), or indirect words like "bapak" or "ibu".
I think the 'kamu' is more considered rude by people who consider themselves complete strangers or 'higher' in the hierarchy (as a boss or so).

My M-I-L would find it completely unacceptable if a maid would say 'kamu' to her, she needs to use 'Ibu' somehow. But that interpretation already exists 'forever'. (At least the decades that I am aware of.) Anda is extremely formal and more used in business presentations or so.

It could have to do with addressing informally (tutoyer), as we have in Dutch (also France and German of course, but specifically with Indonesia being a Dutch ex colony). It might not be so clear for someone with an anglo-saxon background in which the pronoun 'you' encompasses all (thee? thou?). But if I would say jij / tu / du to a stranger or in a formal setting, it would be considered very rude.
 

Nimbus

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You can also see the old Colonial words disappearing somewhat. The Dutch words slowly but gradually get replaced by more 'pure' or even English words.

Ik can think of arloji for instance, from horloge of course.
And nobody says pakansie anymore, from vakantie.
An old uncle in Holland still says (hot)perdom.

I guess the anglicizing is a worldwide phenomenom though. If I listen to teenagers speaking my own language, it becomes a big mix.
I see a lot of shift to English-based words and spelling too.

At school I was taught to spell 'frekwensi', today most people use 'frekuensi', which is closer to the English 'frequency'.
 

Nimbus

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I think the 'kamu' is more considered rude by people who consider themselves complete strangers or 'higher' in the hierarchy (as a boss or so).

My M-I-L would find it completely unacceptable if a maid would say 'kamu' to her, she needs to use 'Ibu' somehow. But that interpretation already exists 'forever'. (At least the decades that I am aware of.) Anda is extremely formal and more used in business presentations or so.

It could have to do with addressing informally (tutoyer), as we have in Dutch (also France and German of course, but specifically with Indonesia being a Dutch ex colony). It might not be so clear for someone with an anglo-saxon background in which the pronoun 'you' encompasses all (thee? thou?). But if I would say jij / tu / du to a stranger or in a formal setting, it would be considered very rude.
Yeah, like the difference between the informal "Wie heißt du?" and formal "Wie heißen sie?" In German. Even in Spanish I was taught "¿Como se llama?" instead of the informal "¿Como te llamas?".

Indonesia is complicated because there doesn't seem to be a general consensus for a middle or neutral 'you'. It's either too informal or too formal. But if you start using ethnic languages the options begin to widen, like the Javanese 'sampeyan'.
 

dafluff

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Yeah, like the difference between the informal "Wie heißt du?" and formal "Wie heißen sie?" In German. Even in Spanish I was taught "¿Como se llama?" instead of the informal "¿Como te llamas?".

Indonesia is complicated because there doesn't seem to be a general consensus for a middle or neutral 'you'. It's either too informal or too formal. But if you start using ethnic languages the options begin to widen, like the Javanese 'sampeyan'.
Props for actually finding the proper characters for eszett (ß) and the upside down question mark.
 

dafluff

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That shift was due to Suharto's Javanization, including the term 'bapak', 'ibu', 'mas', and 'mbak'. Old movies from the 70's and early 80's still used 'tuan' and 'nyonya'.

I very rarely use the word 'kamu' and 'anda' for as long as I can remember. In Jakarta between friends it's always 'lu', then straight to honorifics for everyone else.
Kamu is of course very familiar. I used it quite often in conversation between friends. In Bali we use it (probably because lu - gue wasn't used) when speaking in Indonesian. In Balinese there are several levels of familiarity and politeness, so it gets more confusing.

But now even between friends, kamu is not used anymore.
 

Nimbus

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Props for actually finding the proper characters for eszett (ß) and the upside down question mark.
Virtual keyboards are wonderful. On the iphone I just hold the character and all the possible permutations pop up. I wouldn't bother if this was typed on a standard English QWERTY keyboard.
 

nd_eric_77

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Kamu is of course very familiar. I used it quite often in conversation between friends. In Bali we use it (probably because lu - gue wasn't used) when speaking in Indonesian. In Balinese there are several levels of familiarity and politeness, so it gets more confusing.

But now even between friends, kamu is not used anymore.
In my West Jakarta circle, kamu is less common but still used, and aku is still quite common. Gua / Lu is still used in very familiar settings (in WhatsApp, gua / gue is often abbreviated as gw).
 

Puspawarna

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Another weird shift that I am still getting adjusted to is that people no longer use the second person, "kamu" and "anda". .
I have only ever seen "anda" in advertisements. What could possibly be the substitute there?
 

jstar

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I have only ever seen "anda" in advertisements. What could possibly be the substitute there?
Saudara saudari.


In church or so it would mean something like ‘brothers and sisters’ but the general use is more ‘ladies & gentlemen’.
 
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