When Merrifield and Salea surveyed the Gorontalo-Mongondow language area in 1990, they noted a general pattern of usually strong language use, but with Indonesian playing a larger role in the lives of young people (Merrifield and Salea 1996:128–131). For Mongondow in particular, in three out of the nine villages they surveyed children primarily spoke Indonesian. In more recent years others have raised concerns about the declining use of Mongondow among the younger generation, particularly vis-à-vis Manado Malay (Korompot 2008; Mamonto 2008).
We rate Mongondow as 3/Definitely Endangered based on Korompot’s statement that “kebanyakan generasi muda Totabuan saat ini telah menjadi penutur asli bahasa Melayu Manado, bukan lagi bahasa Bolmong” (the majority of the younger generation in Totabuan today have already become native speakers of Manado Malay, no longer Bolaang Mongondow). The idea has recently been floated that area schools should have a ‘Speak Bolaang Mongondow Day’ each week or every other week, just as they currently have ‘Speak English’ days (Zumi 2011).
What Others Have Written
With more than 200,000 speakers, Mongondow is the language of the overwhelming majority of people in the regency and as the official language of the former Bolaang-Mongondow kingdom it retains high prestige to the present day.
Merrifield and Salea (1996:129)
It was reported in one Mongondow village that everyone uses Indonesian, for the most part, in all areas of life. Of the remaining eight villages, the adults in five use Mongondow for the most part, and it was reported that adults in three villages use both Mongondow and Indonesian. … In two of these eight Mongondow villages, the children use Indonesian for the most part in everyday life. In one village they were reported to use Mongondow for the most part, and in the remaining five villages they use both Mongondow and Indonesian.
Out of the eight villages in which Mongondow is used, the parents and their children in two of them tend to communicate with each other primarily in Mongondow. In four villages they use both languages, and in the remaining two they tend to communicate to each other in Indonesian.
Kita memang tidak memiliki data konkrit tentang seberapa “sakit” bahasa Bolmong saat ini, namun secara kasat mata terlihat bahwa kebanyakan generasi muda Totabuan saat ini telah menjadi penutur asli bahasa Melayu Manado, bukan lagi bahasa Bolmong. … Harus kita akui bahwa, dari sudut pandang linguistik yang saya tekuni, bahasa Bolmong kini sedang berada pada fase awal language extinction, kepunahan bahasa yang dapat memusnahkan semua warisan budaya dan etnisitas Totabuan.
Korompot, Chairil Anwar. 6 December 2008. Menyelematkan bahasa Bolaang-Mongondow. Totabuan Masa Depan. Online. URL: http://totabuanmasadepan.blogspot.com/2008/12/menyelamatkan-bahasa-bolaang-mongondow.html (accessed January 18, 2012). [Originally published in Tribun Totabuan, 10–11 September 2008.]
Mamonto, Anthon. 2008. Kultur Bolmong terancam punah. Tribun Totabuan, 26 August 2008, 2.
Merrifield, Scott; and Martinus Salea. 1996. North Sulawesi language survey. (Summer Institute of Linguistics Publications in Sociolinguistics, 1.) Dallas: SIL.
Sneddon, J. N. 1991. The position of Lolak. VICAL 2: Western Austronesian and contact languages: Papers from the Fifth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics, Auckland, New Zealand, 1991, edited by Ray Harlow, 299–318. Auckland: Linguistic Society of New Zealand.
Zumi. 3 December 2011. ‘Hari berbahasa Mongondow’ akan diterapkan di sekolah. BeritaManado.com. Online. URL: http://beritamanado.com/totabuan/%E2%80%98hari-berbahasa-mongondow%E2%80%99-akan-diterapkan-di-sekolah/67204/ (accessed January 18, 2012).