The Otherness of Indonesian in a Papuan Community
This chapter charts an ideology of linguistic difference, shaping how Korowai of West Papua have evaluated Indonesian over the first quarter-century of their contact with it. Their naming of this intrusive lingua franca as “demon language” (where “demon” contrasts paradigmatically with “human”) is one of many practices by which Korowai emphasize that the new language is simultaneously strange and parallel to their own language. After describing the social history of Indonesian, in Papua and locally, the chapter examines speech practices in which Korowai associate Indonesian with a perspective on the world that is alien to their own geographic and cultural position, but that is a deformed counterpart to their position. The chapter discusses how bilingual Korowai increasingly use Indonesian in conversation with each other, drawing on the language's artful potential for indexing strangeness and parallelism at the same time.
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