Because of a clear decline of Bantik in its homeland area, with fluent speakers all in their fifties or older, we rate Bantik as 2/Severely Endangered. Presumably it is also in decline its southern communities, although this is not stated explicitly in our sources.
What Others Have Written
The Bantik language is spoken by some 6,000 to 11,000 people in about ten villages surrounding Manado, the provincial capital of North Sulawesi, and in several transmigration villages in southern Minahasa and in Bolaang Mongondow, the regency to the west of Minahasa. The sociolinguistic position of Bantik is precarious, as its speakers tend to form a minority in their village community and are under high pressure to switch to Manado Malay.
Merrifield and Salea (1996:137)
For the three Bantik villages surveyed, two had a strong use of Bantik and the other did not. In both northern villages [Molas and Buna] it was reported that adults and children use Bantik almost exclusively for all situations. In the southern village [Kalasey], adults use both Bantik and Indonesian among themselves, but when speaking to their children they use Indonesian, and the children use Indonesian in all situations.
Himmelmann and Wolff (personal communication) report that two of the four Sangiric languages, Bantik and Ratahan (Toratán), appear to be no longer acquired by children.
[Bantik] has less than 3000 fluent speakers all of whom are in their fifties and older, and is endangered. Second language speakers of Bantik, who are in their thirties and forties, show a language structure which is distinct from the traditional one in many respects.
Bantik is a spoken language with no writing tradition, found in nine villages located five to 20 kilometres from Manado city and a further two villages around 100 kilometers from the city. Noorduyn (1991a:20) reported that its speakers were estimated to number around 10,000, but my observations in 2009 tell me that there are now less than 3,000 fluent speakers of Bantik, as the younger generation is losing command of the language.
As is clear from the data, Bantik is no longer the first language of people born after 1980, and people born between 1966 and 1979 can best be described as semi-speakers of the language. Both these groups show a preference for Manado Malay in situations where full language competence is called for, and among the younger group, it is also the dominant language in the private domain. It is safe to say that Bantik will completely cease to be transmitted once the members of the young group in this survey become parents, considering … that … the grandparents of this generation are those in the category of semi-speakers.
The most noteworthy fact is the Bantik people’s attitudes to language. They almost invariably choose Bantik as their most-liked language, whatever their age or profession. Even young people, who do not have any competency in Bantik, share this sentiment. In this respect, it is interesting to note that deep affection for an ethnic language does not necessarily lead to its transmission.
There is one organization which aims to preserve the language and culture of the Bantik people which started some fifteen years ago. Though its existence is not widely known, it was founded some 15 years ago, and is called Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Bantik (The Alliance for Bantik Culture). Its members meet once a month for a church service and sing hymns in Bantik, but they are yet to address the most urgent and effective method of preservation of the language, which is its transmission to the younger generation. As noted above, it is not easy to introduce Bantik language as muatan lokal classes in local primary schools because there are many non-Bantik children enrolled in these schools.
Bantik culture, however, does continue to be transmitted. Young people, including teenagers, are willing to learn Bantik traditional songs and dances. On several occasions during the year, Bantik and other ethnic performing arts are presented before a large audience. The village of Bengkol holds Bantik dance and song contests on Independence Day. It may well be that Bantik identity survives in the community’s affection for a dying language and the preservation of its traditional performing arts, rather than in the Bantik language itself.
Florey, Margaret. 2005. Language shift and endangerment. The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar, edited by Alexander Adelaar and Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, 43–64. London: Routledge.
Merrifield, Scott; and Martinus Salea. 1996. North Sulawesi language survey. (Summer Institute of Linguistics Publications in Sociolinguistics, 1.) Dallas: SIL.
Noorduyn, J. 1991a. A critical survey of studies on the languages of Sulawesi. (Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Bibliographic Series 18.) Leiden: KITLV Press.
Utsumi, Atsuko. 2009. Reinterpretation of a morpho-syntactic system as a result of language contact and language attrition: An example from an endangered language in Indonesia. Paper presented at Methodologies in Determining Morphosyntactic Change: Case Studies and Cross-linguistic Applications, Osaka, Japan, March 5–6.
Utsumi, Atsuko. 2012. Language use and attitudes to language in multilingual North Sulawesi: A sociolinguistic survey in the Bantik-speaking area. Words in motion: Language and discourse in Post–New Order Indonesia, edited by Keith Foulcher, Mikihiro Moriyama and Manneke Budiman, 127–152. Tokyo: Research Institute for Language and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA), Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.