Post 107 / The Next Language

Back to the Crib

Bahasa Indonesia is God’s gift to more than two hundred million souls.

It is also God’s gift to an elderly person who needs to learn another language. I have elsewhere characterized Bahasa Indonesian as the easiest language in the world to learn. After over a month of learning the basics I still maintain that opinion even though I am finding memorization a lot more challenging than when I started in Spanish over fifty years past.

Imagine a language that has no verb conjugations for ether tense or person or number. A base word is the same whether noun or verb, singular or plural, male or female, past or present. Many verbs can become nouns with a simple affix and vice versa. There is no painful orientation of language around gender. In fact instead of saying brother or sister, you say sibling.

What Indonesian seems insensitive to in gender, time, and number, they make up for by complexity in levels of honor and formality. It speaks volumes about a world view that is more fastidious about appropriate respect than it is about gender orientation. Gone are the days of needing to remember if a noun in Spanish is male or female.

Even the phonetic sounds of Indonesian are simple consonant vowel consonant sequences. None of the clumsy consonant clusters of Russian. None of the nasal, non-nasal quandaries of Portuguese.

The contrast between the vocalization and non-vocalization of consonant stops is very subtle. In fact I’ve about decided I’ll need to get a hearing aid to really interpret what I am hearing. I fluctuate between that solution and just deciding that there is free fluctuation between /b/ /p/ and /d/ /t/ and /g/ /k/ and /j/ /ch/. Listeners don’t really seem to mind until you are writing it down, and then they are quick to correct you because many of those options drastically affect the meaning of the word as written.

As with any language learning process there are many pitfalls along the way. The primary amusement for nationals living around foreigners is hearing some of their mistakes. I created some laughs that will be held against me for years to come.

I was keen to use my new language so when the housekeeper came in one morning I greeted her by saying, “Salamat pagi Istri.” Everyone laughed. They knew what I wanted to say but understood clearly what I had actually said. Her name is Isti and I had slipped in an r which changed it to wife. Perfect grammar, wrong meaning.

Language learning is a humbling process. At church a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that language learning was kind of like entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I thanked them for their patience in putting up with the three of us.

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” [Luke 18:17 KJV]

I don’t think there is a proud way to enter a new language. The same is true of the Kingdom. If for no other reason I recommend putting yourself in a situation where you have to learn another language in order to accomplish the most basic functions of life. Suddenly you find yourself on the level of a child in a crib that can only bawl to communicate. Progressing from there to years later being able to communicate the subtleties of life and thought and intent and human emotion is not unlike the process we are going through to be transformed into the image of Christ. It is a process that involves intimate attachment to our Head, resolve, hard work, persistence, and patience. It is a process with ebbs and flows. But, it is a process that gloriously succeeds for those who hang on to the grace of God and never give up. It opens a window of understanding with another huge block of humanity and provides the opportunity to communicate “a word in season” as well as an opportunity to see God’s creation and people through eyes shaped by a worldview that is unique.

You might not be surprised that the Gospel messages on 5fish are a part of our language learning routine. I listen almost daily to the Good News for children in Bahasa Indonesian on 5fish. Believe it or not, before we ever got here and before Pastor Siswa had ever heard of Global Recordings Network, another missionary had given the church a number of mp3 players made here in Indonesia that were loaded exclusively with Global Recordings Network content. Most days we hear the entire family listening to those recordings.

Here is the little missionary that went ahead of us.

And here is the happy family that is hosting us.

God Bless,

Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director

Global Recordings Network USA

If you are interested in learning how to share links on social media that will promote use of our recordings and the Gospel in general, please contact RolandHeck@GlobalRecordings.Net

Previous “The Next Language” posts
Truly Sustainable Service – Post 106
The Mountain Taker – Post 105
Give Me That Mountain – Post 104
Epicenter of Languages – Post 103
Holy Envy – Post 102
Watchman – Post 101
First the Blade – Post 100
Marghi – Post 99
Talents – Post 98
Berom – Post 97
God is my Wit(h)ness – Post 96
Scarlet Chested Sun Bird – Post 95
Fountains of Water – Post 94
A Glorious Landing – Post 93
Tale of Three Sisters – Post 92
Collaboration – Post 91
Pick Your Fears Carefully – Post 90
Mixteco del Progreso – Post 89
Go – Post 88
Those Word Lists – Post 87
Altars – Post 86
Oh, for a Thousand Tongues – Post 85
Voices in the Wilderness – Post 84
Nigeria – First Impressions – Post 83
From the Land of Nod – Post 82
Tribute to Mexico – 1967 – 2022 – Post 81
Miniaturization – Post 80
Knowing The Times – Post 79
God Comes to a Dirty World – Post 78
Corn in Mexico – Post 77
When the Church Says No – Post 76
War – Post 75
Theirs Is the Kingdom – Post 74
The Hippie Era Lives On – Post 73
Genesis of a Recording Set – Post 72
Back Tracking – Post 71
Witnesses- Post 70
Who Is Your Owner? – Post 69
An Unsolicited Endorsement – Post 68
Oral Tradition – Post 67
Works of  Man – Post 66
Deliverance – Post 65
New Discoveries – Post 64
The Wall of Pain – Post 63
Is There a Place for the Gospel in Your Story – Post 62
The Love Pyramid – Post 61
Obsession – Post 60
Verb Tenses in Hebrews – Post 59
The Unseen Weapon – Post 58
The Gospel Arrives in Zapoteco:Elotepec – Post 57
Fishing – GRN Style – Post 56
A New Day in Mexico – Post 55
Seeking – Post 54
Pick Your Battles – Post 53
How Big Is Your God? – Post 52
A Muted Gospel? – Post 51
Dedication Service for Marcos – Post 50
Two Weeks, Two Months, Two Years – Post 49
What Will You Give to Jesus – Post 48
Special Assignment – Post 47
The Good and the Best – Post 46
How Many Languages Are There? – Post 45
Verifying Speech Varieties – Post 44
Those God Things – Post 43
Meet Notch, the Desert Cottontail – Post 42
The Lost Languages – Post 41
The Rest of the Yoke – Post 40
What About Those Last Languages – Post 39
A Yoke That Fits – Post 38
The Other Side – Post 37
It Is Finished – Post 36
On the Ground in Culiacan – Post 35
I Will Go With Thee – Post 34
Unseen Warfare – Post 33
God of the Gaps – Post 32
The Father of Faith Missions – Post 31
WAIT – Post 30
Our Ultimate Weapon – Post 29
What Are You Doing Here – Post 28
Recordist Training Course Update – Post 27
Still Shameful – Post 26
Numbers Update – Post 25
The Gospel and Idolatry – Post 24
Could Ye Not Pray – Post 23
John the Baptist and the New Normal – Post 22
Genesis of a Script – Post 21
Embena Experiences – Post 20
An Easter Like No Other – Post 19
Go Or Stay Home – Post 18
The Next Language – Post 17
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