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PhD defence

Bòsò Walikan Malangan: Structure and development of a Javanese reversed language

Thursday 24 October 2019
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


This dissertation investigates the structure and development of Bòsò Walikan Malangan, a word-reversal practice in the East Javanese variety of Malang. Known as Walikan, it incorporates reversed words originating from Malangan Javanese and Malangan Indonesian into a Malangan Javanese structure. The results presented here were drawn from extensive fieldwork, including 725 Walikan words collected from more than one hundred speakers and a substantial number of written Walikan materials observed in the media and public areas.

The research discusses Walikan in relation to other youth languages to determine how it resembles and differs from them. Walikan is shown to have developed from a secretive slang to a widespread marker of shared identity, used in general communication across various speech areas. A similar development occurred in youth languages of Europe and Africa.

This book describes the phonology and phonotactics of Malangan Javanese and Indonesian as the background against which the reversal rules and phonological system of Walikan are explained. It is shown that the underlying segments generally undergo total reversal while conforming to the phonological and phonotactic rules of Malangan Javanese and Indonesian.

In addition, the sociolinguistic domain of Walikan is investigated. It is demonstrated that the reversed forms used by different groups of speakers are dynamic and changing. Finally, the study shows that Walikan enjoys on-going popularity in different types of media such as songs, local TV news, YouTube videos, various digital communication platforms, and newspaper columns; it has become an important feature in the current linguistic landscape of the city.


  • Prof. dr. Marian Klamer


  • Dr. Tom Hoogervorst

Funding organisations

The Directorate General of Higher Education, Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education, Indonesia (DIKTI)
Leiden University
Universitas Negeri Malang


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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