Why does “regime” sound so alarming?

It was one fine evening (during my reading time) when I posted the picture of Kroskrity’s book entitled the Regimes of Languages on my Path, with the assumption in mind that my acquaintances in Path would share my sentiment toward this particular word. It was my countless times reading this book or parts of it, but the feeling and perception remain.

For us growing up during the New Order era, the word regime sounds scary, tyrannical, alarming, nerve-racking and restrictive- very much sounds like Suharto and what he had done during his presidency for almost 32 years at helm.

As an individual growing up during his dictatorship, I instantly read the title exactly with the same perception with one of my Path connections shared, suggesting that particular word was not yet neutral for me. Being curious, I checked and re-checked the meaning from the Webster dictionary- just to make sure. And Webster defines it as government or the system of government- sounds very neutral, doesn’t it?

Language is an organic and ecological entity in which social, political, and historical norms play key roles in constructing and reconstructing the meaning. English, with its role as the global language, in this case has been appropriated to meet the Indonesian taste or flavor mediated by the social, political, and historical values. Therefore, the word “regime” in this case has been organically adopted and ecologically adapted by the Indonesian speakers. In our mind and perception, regime as a term is closely related to Suharto’s era. With its many bitter and less sweet experiences, we have ecologically yet scantily defined “regime” as “a scary, blood-curdling, horrifying, tyrannical” government. Up to this point, I contend that this restrictive definition is due to our own articulation and negotiation as the product of our upbringing, our education system, our social norm, political, and historical values we received during Suharto regime. Suharto together with his government, as the main actor, has played such a significant role in constructing this perception, I suppose 😀

Someday, our next generation may have a different perception towards this particular word 🙂

Still Winter, but leaning towards Spring in a couple of days, 2016.


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