In previous posts, I chronicled the bizarre story of how the Hangeul alphabet was chosen to be the "official" script for a language called Cia-Cia spoken by an obscure tribe in Indonesia:
- "The Hangeul Alphabet Moves beyond the Korean Peninsula"
- "Hangeul for Cia-Cia, part II"
- "Hangeul for Cia-Cia, part III"
Because the whole proposition was so iffy (a lost cause from the very beginning), I think I gave up after that.
Now, in an article by Yi Whan-woo from the Korea Times, we read: "Sejong Institute withdrawal to leave Cia-Cia out in cold".
Here are the opening paragraphs (one sentence each):
A Korean teaching institute in Indonesia that taught the Korean alphabet or Hangeul to a small tribe using an aboriginal language has shut down.
The King Sejong Institute said Monday that it withdrew from Bau-Bau, a city located on the island of Buton, after a year-long operation.
The decision raises concerns that the Cia-Cia, an Indonesian ethnic minority that adopted the Korean alphabet to transcribe its native language, may suffer from the lack of a proper writing system.
I don't see why there should be any concerns about the lack of a proper writing system for Cia-Cia. According to a stipulation in Indonesia's Basic Law, "all tribal languages must be recorded in Roman letters to preserve national unity."
It is apparent from this sign that Roman letters have already been used for Cia-Cia, and that the Hangeul is but a Johnny-come-lately add-on.
It was actually illegal for Hangeul to be used as the official writing system for Cia-Cia, thus it was doomed to failure from the start.
Lord knows I should by now be able to say "Cia-Cia" — having written four Language Log posts about it and having fretted mightily over the first syllable of my current favorite breakfast bread — but I must confess that I do not know how one should pronounce Cia-Cia in an Austronesian way. I'm proud to declare, however, that I do know how to say "ciao!" as the Austrians do!
[A tip of the hat to Michael Rank]