The Malay language 150 years ago: comparing Penang and Java
By Tom Hoogervorst
Date             : 23 June 2014 (Monday)
Time             : 5.30pm - 6.30pm
Venue          : George Town World Heritage Inc.
                        116 & 118, Lebuh Acheh, George Town, Penang.
Language   : English

As Southeast Asia’s most widespread language, Malay has been of key significance for trans-regional unity and interethnic communication since antiquity. Consequently, researchers have not always prioritized the diversity and richness of the Malay dialects; while much attention is typically given to classical and standardized Malay, many of the vernaculars remain outside the academic gaze. This presentation calls attention to a largely ignored textual corpus of “low Malay” used in the colonial Dutch East Indies, especially Java, dating from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Ongoing efforts to digitize the entire corpus are hoped to result in improved searchability and online access to these valuable first-hand sources on late-modern Southeast Asia. The texts contain a fascinating mix of Malay, European and Chinese influence. But how unique are they in this respect? Java’s historical centrality, colonial legacy and cultural cross-fertilization evoke various associations with Penang.

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About the speaker:

MalayLanguage pic02Tom Hoogervorst

Tom Hoogervorst (Leiden, the Netherlands) is a post-doctoral researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. He completed his undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, focusing on Indonesia and the Malay World, at the University of Leiden. During his DPhil research at the University of Oxford, he examined the role of Southeast Asia in the early Indian Ocean World. His long-time area of interest is the linguistic history of Maritime Southeast Asia, especially in connection to India and China. His research aims to offer linguistic perspectives to cultural contact in pre-colonial and colonial Asia.

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