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A Thesis

Submitted to the English Applied Linguistics Study Program in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of

Magister Humaniora



Registration Number: 809112043






Uswar, Yenita, Registration Number 809112043, Minangkabau Language Maintenance by The Association of Sei Jaring Community in Medan. A Thesis. English Applied Linguistics Study Program, Postgraduate School, State University of Medan. 2013.



Uswar, Yenita. Registration Number 809112043, Pemertahanan Bahasa Minang oleh Ikatan Warga Sei Jaring (IWS) di Medan. Tesis. Jurusan Linguistik Terapan Bahasa Inggris, ProgramPasca Sarjana, Universitas Negeri Medan. 2013.




First of all, thanks to ALLAH SWT for the mercy, health and guidance

that has been given in completing this thesis. Even faced with some difficulties in

arranging it, the writer has tried her very best effort to accomplish it.

In its present form, she realizes that she owes a great debt of gratitude to

many people who have assisted her in the process of writing and data collection. It

would be impossible to list all the names but some deserve to be mentioned.

First, Prof. Amrin Saragih, M.A., Ph.D., her First Adviser, for the useful

suggestions, comments and encouragement given during the process of

consultations and framing up her ideas.

Second, Prof. Tina Mariany Arifin, M.A., Ph.D., her Second Adviser, for

her great support, valuable inputs and critical comments on the contents and styles

of writing. This thesis would not have been done without her full support, care,

attention and to whom she owes an invaluable debt of gratitude.

Third, Prof. Dr. Busmin Gurning, M.Pd., Head of English Applied

Linguistics Study Program for the administration procedures in setting all the bits

and pieces in obtaining her the degree of Magister Humaniora.

Fourth, Prof. Dr. Lince Sihombing, M.Pd., Dr. Eddy Setia, M.Ed., TESP.,

and Dr. Anni Holila Pulungan, M.Hum., the reviewers and examiners who have

given enormous inputs for this thesis.

Fifth, Suwardi and Usnetti, her parents, for the mental and financial


Fitri Uswar, S.E., and Rozi Uswar, S.E., her sister and her brother, especially for

their endless support.

Sixth, Mr. Mishar St. Karangan, Head of the Association of Sei Jaring

Community (Ikatan Warga Sei Jaring: IWS) and Mr. Rizky Gunawan as Secretary

at that time represent for his support. Also the IWS family for being the informants

and spend their time for some interview sessions about Minangkabau language.

Finally, Yulifa Rahma Hutabarat, S.S., Teguh Satria Amin, S.Pd., Fadhilah

Arfa Hasibuan, S.Pdi., Rabiatul Adhawiyah, S.Pd., Natalia Tarigan, S.Pd. and all

friends whose names can not be mentioned, with very special gratitude for their

friendship and valuable time for being together.

Medan, 29th August 2013

The Writer,






ABSTRACT ………... iii




CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION 1.1. The Background of the Study ……….. 1

1.2. The Problems of the Study ……….. 5

1.3. The Objectives of the Study ……… 6

1.4. The Scope of the Study ……… 7

1.5. The Significance of the Study ………. 7

CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF LITERATURE 2.1. Role and Function of Indonesian Language and Vernacular Language in the Indonesian Society …..………. 9


2.1.2 Function of Indonesian Language and

Vernacular Language in the

Indonesian Society………. 10

2.2. Language Endangerment ..………. 12

2.2.1 Level of Endangerment …...….……….. 12 Safe ………. 13 At Risk ……… 13 Disappeared ………...……. 13 Moribund ………. 13 Nearly Extinct ……….. 13 Extinct ……….. 14

2.3. Language Shift and Maintenance ..……….. 14

2.3.1 Language shift ……… 14

2.3.2 Language Maintenance .……….. 15

2.3.3 Factors in Language Maintenance ……….. 17 The Role of Parents in Language Maintenance ... 19 The Role of Family in Language Maintenance ……… 22 The Intramarriage ….……….. 23 Homeland Visits .……… 24

2.4. Language and Identity in Language Maintenance …… 25



2.6. The History of Minangkabau Language ………. 29

2.7. Conceptual Framework ……….. 34

2.7. Relevant Studies ………. 35

CHAPTER III: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 3.1. Research Design ………... 37

3.2. Subject of the Study ……….. 37

3.3. Technique of Data Collection ....………... 38

3.4. Technique of Data Analysis ………..…..…….. 39

3.5. Trustworthiness of the study……….…... 41

3.5.1. Credibility ………..…... 41

3.5.2. Transferability ……….……… 42

3.5.3. Dependability ……….……. 42

3.5.4. Conformability ……….……… 42


4.1.1 Factors Affecting Minangkabau Language Maintenance ..……….. 43 The Role of Parents in Minangkabau Language Maintenance……….. 44 The Role of Family in Minangkabau Language Maintenance … 45 The Intramarriage …..………. 47


4.2. Research Finding ……….. 49

4.3. Discussion ……….……… 50


5.2. Suggestions .……….. 54






Table 2.1 Degrees of Language Endangerment ….…...………. 20

Table 2.2 Baso Minang Dialects ……… 32

Table 2.3 Some Minangkabau Languages ………. 33

Table 3.1 The Level of Parents (Second Generation) and Children (Third Generation) Roles in Minangkabau Language Maintenance ……. 41

Table 4.1 The Role of Parents in ML Maintenance ………... 44

Table 4.2 The Role of Family in ML Maintenance ……… 45

Table 4.3 The Intramarriage ………... 47




Appendix 1. The Result of The Data ……….…………... 60

Appendix 2. Pilot Study Questionnaire….……….. 64

Appendix 3. Pilot Study Result ……….. 68





1.1. The Background of the Study

Language is obviously a vital tool for communication. It is not only as a

means of communicating thoughts and ideas, but also it is used for creating

friendship, cultural ties, economic relationship, etc. The existence of language for

human life is very important. Without a language, the society can not be formed

and there will be no community. It is agreed that language cannot be separated

from the culture as language is the product of the culture. The connection between

the culture and language have been noted clearly in past time and probably long

before, because language is the most visible symbol of an ethnic group.

Languages are formed and reflected by the most basic human experiences

in the daily lives. Without proper scientific documentation, the decline of these

languages will result in the irrecoverable loss of a unique knowledge that is based

on specific cultural and historical experience. The increasing globalization in the

twentieth century, with a small group of notions dominating the scene, has had an

adverse effect on the shifting of social and cultural of many communities

especially for the young generation.

The transmigrates from linguistically different background have long

faced the task of maintaining the language origin when they stay in the new place

and their children were born in it. To maintain the existence of their mother



that transmigrate families encounter in their acculturation process in the host


As people from one culture, they have to adjust themselves to the

changing of time. This is hardly felt by the youth. Therefore, the roles of parent in

maintaining their own vernacular language to their children have to be developed.

They have to use their vernacular language in communicate with their children in

any chance. Thus, their vernacular language can be maintained.

Multilingual societies, such as Indonesia, offer great opportunities for in

depth sociolinguistic studies, including those focusing on the idea of language

maintenance and shift. Language shift and ramification are among the most

important aspects of situation where different languages come into contact. This is

because most often through social or political processes the language or languages

become dominant at the expand of the others. Indonesia as a multi-ethnic country,

is assumed that most of the Indonesian people use at least two languages: they are

the vernacular language (mother tongue) and Indonesian language as a National

Language to interact with their socio cultural. The vernacular language is used to

communicate within their tribes and the Indonesian language is used between the

different tribes.

In this world, there are thousands of languages. In Indonesia, specifically

there are hundreds of vernaculars. Many vernaculars in Indonesia are endangered.

As it was informed in Kompas (2007), about 726 of 746 vernaculars in Indonesia

are endangered. Only 13 vernaculars have more than one million language users.



Minangkabau Language and etc, even there are many vernaculars but the use of

those vernacular language which is used by language users are only ten vernacular


When a community does not maintain its language but gradually adopt

another one, this is known as a language shift (Hoffman, 1991: 186). While

language maintenance refers to a situation where members of a community which

tries to keep the language they have always used. A research report from United

Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) forum

(2002) on languages endangerment showed that languages were in danger of

disappearing based on the documents 2279 languages with different degrees of

endangerment and 538 were critically endangered. The youngest speakers are

elderly, and interaction in the given language is infrequent. Thus, it can be

assumed that these 538 languages will disappear in a few years when the speakers

are gone.

Indonesia which consists of many islands and regions with different ethnic

groups has a lot of vernacular languages. There are 746 vernaculars which are

spread in Indonesia (

www.depdikdas.go.id/pusat-bahasa/746-jumlah-bahasa-daerah-indonesia). The growth and development of regional languages are

connected with the local cultural life in form enriching the national culture and

also the national language. One of the vernacular languages which has

development contribute to the development of the national language is

Minangkabau language (ML). It is one of the vernaculars comes from the



Be, Japas, Malano, Ali & Isyam (1986:1) mention that approximately 90%

of the population is the speakers of ML in West Sumatera. It is caused by the

language policy which has been carried on by the government, thus the

transmigrates are forced to use it as their daily language. The ethnic group who

are also known as it likes to wander from one place to another, ML is also widely

used in vary area outside West Sumatera. The shifting of a language happens in

the young generation of Minangkabau ethnic group. They are difficult to maintain

their original ML and pass on their heritage to their children because they do not

have the facilities to do so in their adoptive society. Consequently, their language

as well as their cultural and religious values are being eroded.

One of the cities which is the home for Minagkabau ethnic group is

Medan, a multi-ethnic city. It competes to disappear among another vernaculars,

Indonesian and English language as the impact of globalization. Several ethnics

are live in Medan such as Javanese, Bataknese. Chinese, Mandailingnese,

Minangkaba Language, Malaynese, Karonese, Acehnese, Tamil and others. ML is

one of the vernaculars in Indonesia which is used mainly in Medan.

It is usually used by the transmigrates in Medan. But, the children who

were born in Medan can not speak it like their parents. It is obvious that the

children are influenced by many factors which influence their use of the language.

The researcher discovers that there is a problem that occurs in the Minangkabau

ethnic group in Medan in where she saw the children of both parents who came

from West Sumatera tends to rarely use the language itself, whether at home or in



Holmes (2001) states that language shift is the replacement of one

language by another as the primary means of communication and socialization

within a community. The mark of shifting has long been seen in Medan. Every

young generation which is born in this city (except expatriate) will get Indonesian

language as their mother tongue. This condition was also proceed by Siregar, Isa

& Husni (1998) in their research about the case of bilingual community in Medan

that explained that the local language is very rarely used it, for example in the

personal life such as at home, the function and the role of the local language start

to loss.

It was happened in a small community which was researched by the

researcher, namely the Association of Sei Jaring Community (Ikatan Warga Sei

Jaring: IWS) in Medan. According to the Head of IWS, there are 97 families of

IWS who lives in Medan. In where, based on the observation of the researcher,

many of IWS families especially the third generation (children who were born in

Medan) was a level danger because they had been influenced by the environment

which is stayed by many ethnic groups. And this condition made the shifting of

ML happening.

From the situation, Holmes (2001:63) states that where the language is

considered as an important symbol of a minority group’s identity, it is likely to be

maintained longer. Another statement as said by Corson (2001:74) that

maintenance of a heritage language is vital for the self-identity and esteem of its

speakers. It means that if the vernacular is not maintained, it can be loss in the



Thus, the researcher would like to discover ML maintenance occurring in

Medan and how to maintain it, because she experienced some difficulties in using

ML for herself. Thus, the second generation namely parents, who moved from

their hometown to Medan, and the children as the third generation, who were born

in Medan (Kochan, Mapals, Smith & Webster, 2010) had to work each other and

the existing Minangkabau community in Medan had to support it.

1.2. The Problems of the Study

Minangkabau language (ML) is very interesting to be discussed the causes

of the language shift. Based on a preliminary observation and in line with the

great importance growing of the preserving the existence and development of

local languages especially to the Indonesian language as the national language,

people of Minangkabau ethnic group who stayed in Medan have got problems on

their language. The problems are formulated in the following questions.

1. What do the factors affect the maintenance of Minangkabau language

(ML) in Medan?

2. How do the factors affect the maintenance of ML in Medan?



1.3.The Objectives of the Study

In line with the problems of the study, the objectives are.

1. to identify the factors in maintaining Minangkabau language (ML),

2. to discover the parents’ efforts to maintain ML in Medan and

3. to find out the reasons why the speakers have to maintain the ML.

1.4.The Scope of the Study

A study on language maintenance is closely related to language planning

program. The maintenance of a language is meant to avoid its disappearance. It is

a fact that the younger generation should be aware of their vernacular that has

shifted in a big city. One of the vernaculars is Minangkabau Language (ML) as a

language of the Minang’s people. And one of the communities which exist in

Medan is The Association of Sei Jaring Community (Ikatan Warga Sei Jaring:


Therefore, the scope of this thesis is ML of IWS families, and the second

generation and the third generation will be taken as the subjects. It is of prime

important to protect its existence of the second generation (namely parents), who

move from their hometown to Medan, and the children as the third generation



1.5.The Significance of the Study

Findings of the study are expected to be relevant and useful theoretically

and practically.

Theoretically, the findings would be an evidence of the present situation of

the indigenous Minangkabau language (ML) in Medan especially in the

community of IWS. The findings would be as a comparative study of many

endangered languages for those who are interested in an intensive study of

language maintenance, and the finding hoped to be useful for the next researchers

who will do an in depth research dealing about language maintenance or any

research about ML. Furthermore, the findings would be useful for language

planners improve their knowledge about the vernacular and how to maintain it as

to protect from the extinct.

Practically, since this research focuses on ML which is directly connected

to Minangkabau culture and existence, it is also hoped to be useful for all

Minang’s people to realize that it is important to maintain their language in order





5.1. Conclusions

Based on the results of the findings some conclusions are drawn. There are

four factors which were observed. They were the role of parents, the role of

family, the intramarriage and homeland visits. The analyses of the data were

based on the factors and members of IWS who provided some useful insights on

factors in maintaining Minangkabau language (ML). There are some points to be

exposed in relation to the factors.

1. The factors which affect ML maintenance by IWS are the roles of parents,

family, the intramarriage and the homeland visit.

2. Basically, the most factors which might be could giving the affect of ML

maintenance are the role of parents and the intramarriage. In fact, when

fathers and mothers communicate with one another, they use ML, but

when they communicate with their children, some of them mix their

languages and even use Indonesian language.

3. Being far from homeland causes people in this case the second generation

being prouder to their ethnic group and missing it. But for some of the

third generation chooses to stay hen their parents ask them to visit their


4. The fact which was forgotten by the children that to refuse Indonesian

language than ML when their parents communicate with them. And their



communicate with each other. Their parents allow them use the Indonesian


5. The environment that they lived was influenced their using of ML.

Because of the heterogenic people, the children are usual used Indonesia


5.2. Suggestions

In line with the findings, some points are suggested as the following:

1. The maintenance of a language should be taken as a serious case. The first

thing to be done is to introduce the culture itself, that is Minangkabau

language (ML) to the Third Generation (children), in where the children

had the danger level for ML. this is caused by the entry of foreign cultures

through several media, which indirectly affect the development of culture

and language. Parents have the responsibility to keep ML with

communicating and teaching ML continuously to their children.

2. The first domain for children in learning something is the family domain.

So, it is hoped to the parents, to keep use ML to their children as the first

domain of language teaching.

3. The organization, in this case IWS has to push the young generation to join

the activities which are related to the culture of Minangkabau, because



4. To Minangkabau’s themselves, to be aware of this phenomena and keep

using the language so that ML will not extinct.

5. It is also suggested to all young generation, not only Minangkabau ethnic

group but also other ethnic group, to bear in mind that maintaining the




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Table 2.1 Degrees of Language Endangerment ….…...…………………….     20

Table 2.1

Degrees of Language Endangerment ….…...……………………. 20 p.12


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