Himmelmann (2010:69) viewed Pendau a vital language but long-term endangered since he expected the Pendau to face increasing pressure to integrate into surrounding coastal communities. Even among young people who speak their heritage language, there is loss of Pendau vocabulary due to influence from Indonesian. We follow UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger (Moseley 2010) and rate Pendau as 4/Vulnerable.
What Others Have Written
Pendau, is spoken only by middle hill people. Today most of these people live in resettlement projects or small hamlets close to coastal villages (the Pendau language area spreads very far along the west coast (more than 150 km) which is quite surprising given the fairly small number of speakers (ca. 3.200)). Although the Pendau seem to have been in contact with the coastal population for a very long time, they have entered into closer social relationships with speakers of another group only in a few instances. Otherwise they seem to keep pretty much to themselves even if their settlements are located only a few hundred meters away from a coastal village centre. In their settlements, Pendau is very much the everyday language.
In the future the pressure on the Pendau to integrate more fully into the coastal village life will increase. Since the coastal population is socially dominant (and looks down on the Pendau as supposedly 'uncivilised mountain people') it is unlikely that the Pendau language will play a role in the linguistic ecology of the integrated communities.
Pendau is still a moderately strong language, but largely because of contact with Indonesian a shift in use is already noticeable. Although children still learn to speak Pendau and use it every day, the use of Indonesian in primary school education and in other public circumstances, as well as being the usual medium between Pendau and non-Pendau has already caused the traditional vocabulary of young Pendau speakers to diminish. The most noticeable influence is the heavy borrowing of Indonesian words when they do not know the Pendau equivalent, or to demonstrate their Indonesian knowledge in a Pendau context. Most Pendau speakers are bilingual to some degree in Indonesian (or the Malay Manado variety), and are frequently multilingual in at least one other language that they come into contact with. The introduction of television and the availability of video programs have increased exposure to Indonesian dramatically during the past ten years. This has influenced and increased the bilingual capabilities of many more Pendau speakers. Part of the shift from Pendau to Indonesian is due to more consistent public education for Pendau speakers for grades one through six. … During the last fifteen years the government has made many areas of Pendau that were formerly isolated much more accessible due to many new roads and bridges. This has resulted in increased contact with non-Pendau speakers which in turn has resulted in the need to use a lingua franca, usually Indonesian.
Many Pendau have often hidden the fact that they are Pendau and have identified with a more prestigious language group when possible. Pendau speakers of mixed ethnicity almost always report the more prestigious identity when necessary.
Today most Pendau speakers live in resettlement projects or small hamlets close to coastal villages, along a 150km stretch of the west coast. The total number of speakers is about 3,200 today. In 1991, 2,000 to 5,000 were reported. The Pendau keep much to themselves and tend not to enter into close social relationships with speakers of another language. Pendau is the everyday language in their settlements. They use Indonesian only if they have to, e.g. to outside officials. However, their children receive instruction in the primary schools in Indonesian, and the non-Pendau coastal population is socially dominant. The language must therefore be regarded as potentially endangered.
Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 2010. Language endangerment scenarios: A case study from northern Central Sulawesi. Endangered Languages of Austronesia, edited by Margaret Florey, 45–72. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Moseley, Christopher (ed.) 2010. Atlas of the world’s languages in danger, 3rd ed., entirely revised, enlarged and updated. (Memory of Peoples Series.) Paris: UNESCO Publishing.
Quick, Phil. 2007. A grammar of the Pendau language of central Sulawesi, Indonesia. (Pacific Linguistics, 590.) Canberra: Australian National University.
Wurm, Stephen A. 2007. Australasia and the Pacific. Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages, edited by Christopher Moseley, 425–577. New York: Routledge.