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Since 12 Rabi'ul Awal 1429
( March 20, 2008 )
Sabtu, 15 Rajab 1434 (Saturday, May 25
April 20th , 1869
Dear Mr. Von de Wall.
The dictionary which contains the section of al-Sin has been done, and now I am doing the section of al-Pa. Approximately, the section of al-Pa has reached 300 words or more. Meanwhile, the section of al-Sin which was questioned by Abdullah consists of approximately 200 words.
Now we are doing the section of al-Panya which has reached around 30 words including the meanings in short.
However, the dictionary I make is divided into 3 parts in which the two parts has been done while the other has not. I inform you that every first letter I added sections, such as in al-Pa hamzah chapter, “pa‘, papa‘, pa‘pa‘ ”; and I added chapters ta for every last letter, such as ‘parut‘ or ‘parit‘. By then, because this chapter is included in the Holy Book, this book contains sections, sections contain chapters, chapters contain furu‘, and furu‘ contains problems. It is the content of the dictionary.
If you still have enough time, we can meet again. Intiha al-kalam.
From Politic to Education
This is the sixtieth letter written by Raja Ali Haji to Von de Wall. Written on Muharram 8th,1286 Hijriyah (The Islamic calendar) or April 20th , 1869 A.D, this letter told the progress of Malay dictionary writing which was in process.
The encounter between Raja Ali Haji and Von de Wall who was in charge of being asistent resident eerste klas (first class resident assistant) was started in 1850s when Von de Wall needed an informant for collecting and classifying Malay words in order to arrange the Malay-Dutch and Dutch-Malay dictionaries. Besides Raja Ali Haji, Von de Wall also hired Haji Ibrahim. This assignment at that time was considered for very crucial decision because the Dutch government needed the guideline for spelling and the vocabulary development for education.
At first, Von de Wall harboured doubt about their ability in linguistic. However, gradually Raja Ali Haji‘s ability impressed Von de Wall and even their relationship did not only as professionals. In some of Raja Ali Haji‘s letters, Von de Wall was often described as a trusted brother who kept all of Raja Ali Haji‘s secrets as written in his letter on April 22, 1862 A.D.
The involvement of Raja Ali Haji in arranging dictionaries related to his choice in isolating himself from the kingdom politic. From 1830 A.D. to -1850s A.D, he was very active in governmental affairs of the Riau-Lingga sultanate. He even held a strategic position, such as an advisor for Yamtuan family. However, in 1860s, Raja Ali Haji‘s attention concentrated in education, religion, and literacy. One of the reasons why he resigned from the kingdom was the Dutch‘s interference which got stronger in the kingdom because they were afraid of Raja Ali Haji‘s power.
On the bill of Raja Ali Haji‘s letters to Von de Wall in 1860s – one of them was a letter mentioned above – it was clearly seen that he became quite often isolating himself to Pengujan Island, doing scientific activities, teaching language in some Moslem education institute, and writing books rather than spending his time for doing official duties in the kingdom. Despite his hatred toward the Dutch, Raja Ali Haji kept cooperating with the Dutch in the educational development. It was similar to his cooperation with Von de Wall.
About the Letter
This letter was one of their correspondences while working together in arranging dictionaries. They corresponded with informal daily language. The language used was much different from the formal language used. Therefore, this correspondence is one of rare examples of Malay language use which is normally used in Malaya Peninsula and as root of Indonesia language.
Almost each of his letters to Von de Wall was started by a sentence “Qauluhul-Haqq” which meant His words are true. Except on his first letter sent on September 16, 1857 A.D, Raja Ali Haji used words “Ya Qadi al-hajat”. This expression was commonly used to express that the content of the writing was true and not a joke. These words showed the Arabic literacy of Raja Ali Haji. For Arabic scholars, it was normal to correspond by inserting sections of Al-Qur‘an, such as Quluhul Haqq or innahu min sulaiman waiinnahu min bismillahirrahmanirrahim.
The letter stated that there were approximately 150 words in the section al-Sin and 300 words in the section al-Pa which had been finished. This numbers was intentionally inserted by Raja Ali Haji to answer Abdullah‘s question to Von de Wall that Raja Ali Haji was quite slow in finishing the dictionaries. If this assignment had been given to Abdullah, it would have been finished in 7 months (look at Abdullah‘s letter in the middle).
In the next paragraph, Raja Ali Haji‘s letter explained the clarification process implemented in the Malay dictionaries which he was working on. He called his dictionary as a Holy Book which contained few sections. The sections contained the first Malay words adjusted to Arabic alphabets system (alif, al-ba‘, ta‘, tha‘ ...). The section of al-sin was the thirteenth letter in Arabic alphabets and the eleventh section in the dictionaries (he did not include dh and z which were not common in Malay language). In every section there were chapters which were based on the difference of suffix. For instance, al-Pa section ta chapter included words parut or parit. A chapter containing furu‘ had few problems.
Holy Book -> Sections Chapters -> Furu‘ -> Problems
On lexicography, the dictionary arrangement can be based on the prefix or suffix. The words arrangements with the latest model is commonly used by some countries in their literacy which emphasized the last rhythm of literacy work, such as the Arabian poems. The most famous dictionary of this model is known as mu‘jam alqawafi written by Rihab Kamal Hulw.
Related to the previous discussion above, it is clearly seen that Raja Ali Haji was trying to combine the two approaches by making the first letter as a reference, and also classifying the last letter of a word. It is related to the needs of the Malay society which are known by their quatrains where the last letter is completely determine the esthetic values of the quatrains.
 The letter contained Raja Ali Haji‘s demand to Von de Wall to convey some of his wishes to the local authorities. This demands related to the development of the rented house, printing media, and the employee‘s salary increase. Still in this letter, Raja Ali Haji complained to Von de Wall about the decrease of salary, the increase debt, and Von de Wall‘s wishes which were always rejected by the Dutch. Raja Ali Haji called Von de Wall with two calls “my friend” and “my majesty friend”
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