Language is a way of human to communicate. It can be sounds, voice, gestures, and/or written symbols. There are roughly 6,909 distinct languages and 7,106 living languages in the world. In Indonesia, there are 700 living languages that are spoken and most of them are from the Austronesian language group and a few Papuan languages.
There are more than 270 languages in West Papua. The Papuan languages are very unique as it is a subset of Languages of Papua New Guinea of the western Pacific island of Papua New Guinea and the neighboring islands that are neither Austronesian nor Australian. The languages were formed from a long history of Papua, covering the colonialism period, the interaction with other ethnic groups, Zending (missionary) organizations, and other non-scientific activities.
Recently, the local government and the department of education and culture in Mimika Papua have published Amungme and Kamoro languages dictionaries, which are translated in Bahasa Indonesia. The aim of the publishing of these dictionaries are to promote and preserve the Papuan languages.
Both Amungme and Kamoro languages are languages that are mostly spoken by the local people who live in Mimika region. Amungme language is mostly spoken by Papuan people who live in Uhunduni, Amung, Hamung, Amung Kal, Amuy, Enggipilu, Uhunduni. Amungme language is also called Dhamal language. While Kamoro language is mostly spoken by Papuan people who live in Mimika, Lakahia, Nagramadu, Mumamuga, Kaokonau, Umari, Neferipi, and Maswena.
Cited from Papua.antaranews.com, the Assistant of Cabinet Secretary of Mimika, Marthen Paiding, said “Let’s say “Akuare ndaata” (Kamoro: Let’s study languages). These dictionaries are very useful for our next generation to learn languages as our ancestral heritage culture”.
The dictionary consists of 1,300 words for Kamoro and 1.000 words for Amungme. It is also completed with examples of the words when used in a sentence, which are translated in Bahasa Indonesia. Each dictionary will be produced in the amount of 5,000 items, and then it will be introduced and disseminated to students and every Regional Working Unit in Mimika region.
For non-Papuan people, these dictionaries aim to invite them to learn this unique language. In Indonesia, many people are interested in Papuan languages since the airing of a famous comedy series called Epen Cupen. It is a comedy from Papua that is called MOP (Mati ketawa ala Orang Papua) or Papuan Laugh Out Loud. Hopefully, after this dictionary, there will be other books and comics that can introduce Papuan languages and traditions.
Along with promoting Papuan languages, this program is expected to preserve the Papuan culture and language since there are many influences on how young Papuan people communicate nowadays. Papuan language is a very valuable heritage for the next generation of Indonesia.