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

On the 24th of October, Nurenzia Yannuar successfully defended her doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Nurenzia on this achievement.

Nurenzia Yannuar
24 October 2019
Leiden University Repository

This dissertation investigates the structure and development of Bòsò Walikan Malangan (‘Malang-style reversal language’), a word-reversal practice in the East Javanese variety of Malang. Known as Walikan, it incorporates reversed words originating from Malangan Javanese, Malangan Indonesian, and other languages 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 of Walikan 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: male speakers show more confidence than female speakers in reporting their fluency, and there are phonological differences between age groups.

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. Walikan is also found to be an important feature in the current linguistic landscape of Malang, East Java.

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