Do you speak bahasa?
I, too often, hear non-Indonesians refer to Indonesian language as bahasa. “Do you speak bahasa?” foreigners in Indonesia ask each other. In US, I found out that some Indonesians refer to their own language as bahasa as well. And sadly, some Indonesianists also do the same thing! Come on, you are the expert, you should know so well that it’s wrong!
Oh, this really drives me crazy!!
Guys, I tell you this: In English bahasa is translated as “language”.
I speak bahasa Inggris (English), really bad bahasa Belanda (Dutch), and bahasa Sunda (Sundanese, my local language). All languages are bahasa! Everybody in the world speak bahasa.. their own bahasa !!!!
So, the word bahasa doesn’t mean anything but language. If you want to use Indonesian word for “Indonesian” (language) then use the complete term “Bahasa Indonesia”.
Asking “Do you speak Indonesian?” is much much better than “Do you speak bahasa?”
Ok. From now on, I hope everybody around me will stop making this mistake. Or else, I’ll sue you!!!!!
p.s. dedicated to H, a friend in Berkeley, who consistently condemns the abusive use of the word “bahasa”.