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Indonesia & Arabic

Jul 9, 2018American, Canadian, Life&Food

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José Cruz: Yohanes, thank you very much, uh for doing this with me.

Yohanes Handojo: No worries.

José: Um your name, um the very first time you said it to me, I was thinking, OK it’s going to be one of those Dutch sort of names. It starts with a “J” or something but it doesn’t. it starts with a “Y”. Is it actually a Dutch name?

Yohanes: It is, It is.

José: I thought so (Yeah yeah) Because of the Indonesia thing (Mm-hmm) And I- right.

Yohanes: Yeah it is actually a Dutch name. Um, it is taken from the German. Um it is a Germanic name um that is taken from the Hebrew, um yeah it’s um…

José: Ha ha I didn’t know that, OK.

Yohanes: Um uh, but it is it is a Dutch name and it’s actually very very common in Indonesia.

José: Is it? (Yeah) As Muslim as that country is (Mm-hmm) A whole bunch of Muslims running around with Dutch names?

Yohanes: Yes there is actually a lot of- a lot of Muslims um with a name like Hani or you know, Elizabeth for example is uh quite a- a common name. (Ha ha Really) Yeah yeah. Um, so you have kind of like the um the mix. Indonesia is actually a very very diverse country. You have the mixes of like people with very Arabic names (Right) people with very Chinese names (Ah right) and people with very Dutch names.

José: How ab- You know, with the Musl- Um for anyone who’s listening who doesn’t know this. It’s the largest Muslim country in the world, right?

Yohanes: It- Yeah, that is true, yeah.

José: OK. What’s the role of Arabic in in the society then?

Yohanes: Um OK so, as I think you know um…

José: Probably I don’t. (Uh) Don’t assume anything.

Yohanes: Alright alright, um the Arabic um culture kind of seeps into um our culture from the religion. Um for example…

José: Right. That’s what I was thinking.

Yohanes: Yeah right. Um because for example, like they do the prayer (Mm) uh five times a day um and so, literally if you just hang out in Indonesia, anywhere you- you’d be um, there would be a mosque somewhere uh playing the prayer (Sure) Um on speaker uh (Sure) and so you’d hear it. So uh people just hanging out in Indonesia you would hear Arabic everyday.

José: OK so it is spoken it is used. (Um) It’s on TV? It’s on packaging?

Yohanes: It’s on TV. It’s it’s on some packaging. Not on- It’s it’s- Uh, out ofYohanes should have said “outside of” (2:18) religion it’s not really used (Hhmm) But in context. In in the religion kind of like, in the Muslim community it’s used heavily. (Interesting) Yeah and so people also use words, um Arabic words (Sure) um to uh signify something that’s uh like let’s say pure or um holy um…

José: Uniquely Arabic, or uniquely Muslim (Uniquely Muslim) it it- it’s not part of the Indonesian culture (Yeah) so it has to have- be used inJosé should have said “as” (2:48) an Arabic word.

Yohanes: Right right right. And um that’s actually quite common um and people greet each other like, “Assalamu alaikum” Which is a greeting that um…

José: Uh the what- I used to know the response to that… I don’t.

Yohanes: “Wa alaikum assalaam”

José: That’s it that’s it! No! “That’s it. That’s it” Like- like I’m an expert or something! (Ha ha) Yeah um, and actually a lot of people don’t realize how many words uh actually are of Arabic origin. (Right right) Like like Algorithm, or um Algebra (Right right) Those are all- Because there- there’s a great history of science (Mm mm) in in the Arabic and the Muslim world (Yup) and a lot of those really basic ideas about basic scientific thinking come from- a lot of medical terms apparently, (Yeah right right) are very Arabic.


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José Domingo Cruz image

José Domingo Cruz


Vancouver, British Columbia

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Yohanes Handojo


Jakarta, Indonesia


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