a blog for the globe
Monday May 1st 2017

A Pathway into Sundanese

Language | Tuesday, 4 October 2011 | sundanesecorner.org

Hawe Setiawan

One of the recent books on Sundanese subject is Ngamumule Basa Sunda (Preserving Sundanese Language) by Wahyu Wibisana (Kiblat Buku Utama, 2011). This is a collection of short essays previously published in Mangle, a Bandung-based Sundanese weekly magazine. Its contents consist of 61 essays, which are divided into seven parts. Within non-fiction genre, it seems to be an important work on the subject due to the significance of its theme and the authority of the writer.

Wahyu (born in 1935) is a prominent Sundanese literary figure, which is gifted by talents and skills in composing various literary works. He has published several collections of poems, including the ones that were musicalized by the late composer Koko Koswara. He has also written short stories, drama, and essays. Several papers on Sundanese have also been presented by him at various forums. For years he had been working as a local government official in the field of education until his retirement. He is one of the founders of Mangle, a popular magazine that was established in 1957, and was its editor. Due to his expertise in the field of language and culture, Wahyu is also well-known as one of the inventors of the so called upacara adat Sunda ‘Sundanese (wedding) ceremony’ and the one who coines several proper Sundanese terms to be used in daily communication as well. The essays collected in this book were regularly issued in the Mangle‘s pages of Rampadan Basa ‘Language Tray’ in 1980s.

The composition of the essays is quite unique. Although each essay is basically separate from one another, but thematically related to each other, constituting a sort of circuit. This suggests that when preparing this series of essays Wahyu was very likely had been defined a general framework to encompass all of the articles. In this sense it seems that his main concern is to provide a guidance for general readers in knowing the complexities of Sundanese, especially for the sake of its daily usage. In one of the essays, for instance, he even puts forward his response to a question from a reader about the pattern of word formation.

His descriptions are expressed in a simple and popular style, in the sense that it doesn’t contain too many technical jargons. Academic references are, however, not forgotten, demonstrating that the author’s perspective is supported by certain theoretical basis as well as sugesting that he keeps in touch with contemporary researches of the subject. In other words, he explains several aspects of the language like a good teacher speaks to his beloved pupils.

Leave a Reply