The (in)visibility of Torajan language: A study on linguistic landscape in South Sulawesi, Indonesia

Suwarni Wijaya Halim, Katharina Endriati Sukamto


The Torajan language is the heritage language of the Torajan people, which reflects the local wisdom and identity of the people. Yet, with the popularity of Indonesian and English as the lingua franca, there is a concern for the domain, status, and vitality of the Torajan language within the society. Therefore, this study aims to study the visibility of the language. This study offers a novel approach by looking at the use of the Torajan language in the linguistic landscape in two regencies, Tana Toraja and Toraja Utara, to determine its position in the community. The research utilized a case study design, and the source of data is linguistic landscapes found along Jalan Poros Rantepao–Makale which connects the two regencies. The images of linguistic landscapes were collected by viewing the Google Street View facility provided by Google Maps, and the languages in those linguistic landscapes were noted. The findings show that Indonesian and English dominate the linguistic landscape in Tana Toraja and Toraja Utara, and the Torajan language is minimally represented in the public space of these two regencies. The lack of visibility of the language in the public space might be caused by the restricted use of the language for familial talks at home and oral indigenous rituals. However, the Torajan language needs to be used more frequently in public spaces since it could promote a positive attitude of the people, which would in turn solidify the position of the language in the society.


language maintenance; linguistic landscape; Torajan language

Full Text:



Anderbeck, K. (2015). Portraits of language vitality in the languages of Indonesia. Language Documentation and Cultural Practices in the Austronesian World: Papers from 12-ICAL, 4, 19-47.

Baan, A., Girik Allo, M. D., & Patak, A. A. (2022). The cultural attitudes of a funeral ritual discourse in the indigenous Torajan, Indonesia. Heliyon, 8(2), e08925.

Baan, A., & Suyitno, I. (2020). Cultural representation of Toraja ethnic on the use of vocabulary in Singgi’ speech. LITERA, 19(2), 212-230.

Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa. (2012). Balai bahasa provinsi Sulawesi Selatan menyelenggarakan kongres internasional II bahasa-bahasa daerah Sulawesi Selatan. Kementerian Pendidikan Dan Kebudayaan.

Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa. (2018). Mengaktualisasikan kembali upaya pelestarian bahasa daerah di Sulawesi Selatan. Kementerian Pendidikan Dan Kebudayaan.

Blommaert, J., & Maly, I. (2015). Ethnographic linguistic landscape analysis and social change: A case study. In K. Arnaut, J. Blommaert, B. Rampton, & M. Spotti (Eds.), Language and superdiversity. Routledge.

Benu, N. N., Artawa, I. K., Satyawati, M. S., & Purnawati, K. W. (2023). Local language vitality in Kupang city, Indonesia: A linguistic landscape approach. Cogent Arts and Humanities, 10(1), 1-14.

BPS-Statistics of Tana Toraja regency. (2021). Kabupaten Tana Toraja dalam angka.

BPS-Statistics of Toraja Utara regency. (2021). Kabupaten Toraja Utara dalam angka.

Caldwell, D. (2017). Printed t-shirts in the linguistic landscape. Linguistic Landscape. An International Journal, 3(2), 122-148.

Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2006). Linguistic landscape and minority languages. International Journal of Multilingualism, 3(1), 67-80.

Cohn, A. C., & Abtahian, M. R. (2017). Big languages aren’t (necessarily) safe; Language shift in the major languages of Indonesia. International Seminar on Sociolinguistics and Dialectology: “Changes and Development of Language in Social Life” 2017, 1-7. Universitas Indonesia.

Cohn, A. C., & Ravindranath, M. (2014). Local languages in Indonesia: Language maintenance or language shift? Linguistik Indonesia, 32(2), 131-148.

Collins, J. T. (2022). Language death in Indonesia: A sociocultural pandemic. Linguistik Indonesia, 40(2), 141-164.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods design, 5th Ed. SAGE Publication.

Crystal, D. (2000). Language death. Cambridge University Press.

da Silva, A. M., Tjung, Y. N., Wijayanti, S. H., & Suwartono, C. (2021). Language use and tourism in Yogyakarta: The linguistic landscape of Malioboro. Wacana, 22(2), 295-318.

de Jong, E. (2013). Making a living between crises and ceremonies in Tana Toraja. Brill.

Dewi, R., Pulung, P., & Muttalib, A. (2018). Semasiologis dalam bahasa Toraja. Jurnal Pendidikan PEPATUDZU, 14(2), 107-122.

Dinas Komunikasi Informatika, Statistik dan Persandian Provinsi Sulawesi Selatan (2023). Gubernur Sulsel menjadi pembicara di Forum UNESCO mewakili Indonesia [The Governor of South Sulawesi as a speaker at the UNESCO Forum representing Indonesia].

Donzelli, A. (2020). Material words: The aesthetic grammar of Toraja textiles, carvings, and ritual language. Journal of Material Culture, 25(2), 167-195.

Ewing, M. C. (2014). Language endangerment in Indonesia. International Journal of Education, 8(1), 12-22.

Fakhiroh, Z., & Rohmah, Z. (2018). Linguistic landscape in Sidoarjo city. NOBEL: Journal of Literature and Language Teaching, 9(2), 96-116.

Foster, M., & Welsh, A. (2021). English usage in the linguistic landscape of Balikpapan’s main Thoroughfares. Indonesia and the Malay World, 49(145), 1-22.

Garing, J. (2016). Pertalian kekerabatan bahasa-bahasa Toraja, Bugis, dan Makassar: Kajian morfosintaksis. Metalingua: Jurnal Penelitian Bahasa, 14(1), 71-82.

Garing, J. (2017). Modality in Toraja language. Metalingua: Jurnal Penelitian Bahasa, 12(1), 71-81.

Grimes, C. E., & Grimes, B. D. (1987). Languages of South Sulawesi. The Australian National University.

Huebner, T. (2016). Linguistic landscape: History, trajectory and pedagogy. Manusya: Journal of Humanities, 19(3), 1-11.

Iwana, M. F., & Sudarwati, E. (2021). A melting pot of Malang: Linguistics landscape of Malang culinary signs. Lire Journal (Journal of Linguistics and Literature), 5(2), 254-275.

Kasanga, L. A. (2014). The linguistic landscape: Mobile signs, code choice, symbolic meaning and territoriality in the discourse of protest. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2014(230), 19-44.

Kelleher, A. (2010). What is a heritage language program? Heritage Briefs Collection, 1-4.

King, L. (2018). Cambridge assessment English perspectives: The impact of multilingualism on global education and language learning. University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (2013, March 31). Begini aturan iklan rokok [Here are the rules for cigarette advertisements].

Kweldju, S. (2017). English as a branded language among other foreign languages in the commercial linguistic landscape of Malang, Indonesia. In N. Krisnawati, B. Sianturi, N. Safitri, D. G. Putri, C. M. Sumaraw, N. Ayurisma, & E. Haryono (Eds.), The 6th Graduate Students Conference on English Education, Linguistics, Literature, and Translation: Linguistic Landscape and English Language Studies (pp. 1–16). Sanata Dharma University.

Kweldju, S. (2018). Autonomously riding Google Maps to travel to English speaking countries: Linguistic landscape. J-ELLiT (Journal of English Language, Literature, and Teaching), 2(1), 5-13.

Kweldju, S. (2020). Javanese in the linguistic landscape of the municipality of Malang, Indonesia. In N. Yannuar, E. L. Zen, Y. Basthomi, & A. N. Wulyani (Eds.), A festschri for our guru A. Effendi Kadarisman (pp. 32-55). Universitas Negeri Malang.

Landry, R., & Bourhis, R. Y. (1997). Linguistic landscape and ethnolinguistic vitality: An empirical study. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 16(1), 23-49.

Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 24 Tahun 2009. (2009). Tentang Bende- ra, Bahasa, dan Lambang Negara, serta Lagu Kebangsaan [About the Flag, Language, and National Symbol, as well as the National Anthem].

Lou, J. J. (2016). The linguistic landscape of Chinatown: A sociolinguistic ethnography. Multilingual Matters.

Lukman, & Gusnawaty. (2015). Local languages shift in South Sulawesi: Case four local languages (Bugis, Makassar, Toraja, Enrekang). Journal of Language and Literature, 6(3), 151-154.

Marten, H. F., Mensel, L. V., & Gorter, D. (2012). Studying minority languages in the linguistic landscape. In D. Gorter, H. F. Marten, & L. V. Mensel (Eds.), Minority languages in linguistic landscape (pp. 1-15). Palgrave Macmillan.

Mulyawan, I. W., & Erawati, N. K. R. (2019). Linguistic landscapes in Desa Kuta. E-Journal of Linguistics, 13(2), 343-352.

Mulyawan, I. W., Paramarta, I. M. S., & Suparwa, I. N. (2022). Language contestation at Batukau Temple, Bali (A linguistic landscape study). Cogent Arts and Humanities, 9(1), 1-15.

Nikolaou, A. (2016). Mapping the linguistic landscape of Athens: The case of shop signs. International Journal of Multilingualism, 14(2), 160-182.

Nirwana, & Sharma, M. R. (2022). Linguistic landscape analysis of food advertisement in Makassar. Anglophile Journal, 2(2), 108-119.

Patiung, N., & Sitoto, S. (2021). The efforts of maintaining Torajan language as a mother tongue of Torajan people from the threat of extinction: A preliminary study. Lingtersa (Linguistik, Terjemahan, Sastra), 2(1), 1-6.

Peraturan Presiden (PERPRES) Nomor 63 Tahun 2019 tentang Penggunaan Bahasa Indonesia (September 30, 2019). Penggunaan bahasa Indonesia.

Purnawati, K. W., Artawa, K., & Satyawati, M. S. (2022). Linguistic landscape of Jalan Gajah Mada heritage area in Denpasar city. Jurnal Arbitrer, 9(1), 27.

Puzey, G. (2012). Two-way traffic: How linguistic landscapes reflect and influence the politics of language. In D. Gorter, H. F. Marten, & L. V. Mensel (Eds.), Minority languages in linguistic landscape (pp. 127-147). Palgrave Macmillan.

Ramadhani, A. R. (2018). Lingua franca in the linguistic landscape of Gresik Kota Baru (GKB). Etnolingual, 2(2), 125-134.

Riani, Y. W., Ningsih, A. W., Novitasari, M., & Zulkarnaen, M. S. S. R. (2021). A linguistic landscape study in Indonesian sub-urban high school signages: An exploration of patterns and associations. Journal of Applied Studies in Language, 5(1), 134-146.

Sakhiyya, Z., & Martin-Anatias, N. (2023). Reviving the language at risk: A social semiotic analysis of the linguistic landscape of three cities in Indonesia. International Journal of Multilingualism, 20(2), 290-307.

Sandarupa, S. (2013). The poetry of taking power in Toraja Indonesia. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(19), 113-133.

Sandarupa, S. (2016). “The voice of a child”: Constructing a moral community through Retteng. Archipel, 91, 231-258.

Sari, B. T., van de Vijver, F. J. R., Chasiotis, A., & Bender, M. (2019). Contextualized bilingualism among adolescents from four different ethnic groups in Indonesia. International Journal of Bilingualism, 23(6), 1469-1482.

Shohamy, E., & Gorter, D. (2008). Introduction. In E. Shohamy & D. Gorter (Eds.), Expanding Linguistic Landscape (pp. 1-10). Routledge.

Sinaga, I. N. (2020). A linguistic landscape study at international schools in Medan. University of Sumatera Utara.

Smeets, R. H. J. (2004). Language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage. Museum International, 56(1-2), 156-165.

Suwarno, B. (2017). A policy proposal for heritage language conservation: A case for Indonesia and Sarawak. Issues in Language Studies, 6(2), 1-11.

Suwarno, B. (2020). Acquisition planning for regional indigenous heritage languages in Indonesia. SAGE Open, 10(3), 1-15.

Waliński, J. T. (2014). Implementing linguistic landscape investigations with M-learning for intercultural competence development. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning (IJMBL), 6(2), 15-25.

Waterson, R. (2009). Paths and rivers; Sa’dan Toraja society in transformation. Brill.

Zahra, S. T., Setia, E., & Zein, T. (2021). Linguistic landscape on coffee shop signboards in Medan. Budapest International Research and Critics Institute-Journal (BIRCI-Journal), 4(3), 5445-5457.


Article Metrics

Abstract view : 0 times
PDF - 0 times


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Print ISSN: 2355-2794, Online ISSN: 2461-0275

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

View Journal Stats