A language dies when there are no more speaker of the language alive. And there are various ways that cause that to happen. I have no intention to scare people but I really think Javanese language is on its way there. These are some of my assumptions why it’s happening:
1. National Language
Oh I am so sorry but it’s true. What happened in October 28th, 1928 was one of the reason why the Javanese language is slowly extinct. The soft brainwashing that we only have one language to unite us all: Bahasa Indonesia, made us all believe that it’s the only important language.
You don’t believe that? Okay, how many hours at school you’re asked to study Bahasa, and how many hours were allocated for local language?
One of the reason why Breton language in Brittany, France was dying was because at one long period of time, the France government believes that how to unite France is by speaking one language, Parisian French.
Now you think
Now, how many hours were allocated for English, and probably Mandarin for some private schools.
The globalisation makes people believe that to be able to stand up among the crowds in the International / Global market you have to acquire the International language. The smaller job market, the tougher the competition. The ability to go across culture (haha!) is a must if you want to be considered as a product of the modern world.
Local and indigenous language? Meh!
3. The Language Stereotyping
I think this is more a plausible reason why less and less people are willing to converse in Javanese language. The language stereotype, or how we associate a language with certain characteristics, created certain attitude towards people who speak a particular language. And thank you, media for making this even easier.
Have you ever watch a stupid Indonesian TV shows/series? Yes. The popular, modern young people use Bahasa Indonesia with Jakarta accent and a lot of Jakarta slangs. The older and wiser figures use the over formal and sometimes silly Bahasa (or in UK, more or less like the Queen’s English). The smart young, educated, don’t have accents, and talk in a well structured Bahasa, which sometimes borrow English words (or in UK more or less like BBC English, and sometimes borrow French). And those who played the low class and the stupid will have a heavy thick accent like Batavian, Sundanese, Bataknese, or Javanese accents.
Who wants to learn an indigenous language if it’s associated with unfashionable uneducated people. It’s just a stereotype, but hey, young generations want to be fashionable.
Of course there are other reasons like my family who doesn’t speak Javanese at home because my father and grand mother doesn’t speak Javanese. Using a language that everybody understand is a lot easier than translating each other words all the time. However rare case like mine was nothing compared to the other reasons why it’s dying.
I am not trying to blame or pointing my finger to anyone. I was assuming and raising the facts that sometimes some people forgot. I wouldn’t even see you better or worse with or without the knowledge of your local/indigenous language. I’m just a linguist 😀