- Leerboek Indonesisch
Knowledge of Dutch had once been prerequisite for anyone wishing to study Indonesian Malay or learn about Indonesia in general. Sharply increased American, Australian, British, and other English-speaker commitment after World War ii, resulting in a profusion of literature in this language particularly since around 1970, has meanwhile changed that. And thus, the more-or-less standard studybook for tertiary language courses for Indonesian has for three decades been first Wolff (1977-79), then Wolff, Oetomo, and Fietkiewicz (1992), both in English. Only occasionally did adequate expertise and experience encounter sufficient domestic demand to make a textbook feasible in other language communities, for example, Labrousse (1997) in French, and Nothofer and Pampus (1998) in German.
Reviewing Leerboek Indonesisch is particularly exciting, because it is not simply a belated Dutch variant of the latter contributions. The author, himself a leading expert with many years experience in teaching the language at Leiden University, could also fall back on the rich material, tutorial tradition, and supporting expertise of the staff of the university—the historic cradle of Indonesian studies known originally as Indologie—as acknowledged in the preface (7-8). [End Page 525]
Leerboek Indonesisch is not a quick language guide for tourists, but aims at serious study of the language in depth. It is based exclusively on the official standard language (Bahasa Indonesia Baku) and not on the actually spoken popular dialect. The author notes having consulted leading specialists of the Language Center (Pusat Bahasa) of the Department of National Education in Jakarta.
At the same time, it aims at sufficient elaborateness, particularly of the grammatical explanations, to allow self-study. In addition to six appendixes (I, a review of the grammar, 581-602; II, a sketch of "substandard Indonesian" as actually spoken, 603-608; III, Indon.-Dutch wordlist, 609-652; IV, Dutch-Indon. wordlist, 653-665; V, a subject index, 667-674; and VI, solutions to the exercises, 675-737), it includes an accompanying tutorial on CD-ROM, featuring audio recordings of spoken illustrations to all 20 lessons.
For the program frame of the CD-ROM tutorial, the author wisely chose the HTML format of www pages that can be viewed with any modern (version 4.0 upwards) web browser such as Netscape Navigator or MS Internet Explorer, independent of computer platform (I made test runs on Macintosh 9.2 and Windows 95). These should, however, be adequately equipped (standard on most modern computers) to handle the 57 sound files in WAV format.
The basics of Indonesian pronunciation and spelling are elaborately worked out in lesson 1 (16-29). The treatment meets strict phonological criteria and goes meticulously through the fine points and pitfalls of Indonesian phonetics and spelling, particularly those that may present difficulties to the native speaker of Dutch. At the same time, the explanations are formulated in a way that is readily accessible to the Dutch layperson without preliminary linguistic training. Thus, phones and phonemes of Indonesian are explained in terms of those of Dutch (beside being read out in the CD-ROM tutorial), noting at the same time existing minor differences (e.g., when a vowel tends to be diphthongized in Dutch, while its counterpart in Indonesian is not).
One weak point is perhaps the treatment of the pairs [e]/[ε], [i]/, and [o]/[Ɔ] which are regarded as open-/closed-syllable allophone pairs of /e/, /i/, and /o/ respectively (21). Actually, only [e] and  are in complementary distribution (only in open syllables and only in closed syllables, respectively). For the rest, compare merah [mε.rah] 'red', serong [sε.rƆŋ] 'slanted', tim [tim] 'team' versus tim [t1m] 'broth', politik [po.li.tik] versus apotik [ʔa.po.t1k] 'drugstore', kuno [ku.nƆ] 'ancient' versus kano [ka.no] 'canoe', bom atom [bƆm ʔa.tom] 'atomic bomb'. The error is actually not the author's, but is already immanent in the corrresponding treatment in the standard grammar of Moeliono and Dardjowidjojo (1988:48-51).
This may lead to some puzzlement in the question of vowel length. As distinctive vowel...