INTERVIEW: Meet the Javanese Language Announcer in Dubai Airport

INTERVIEW: Meet the Javanese Language Announcer in Dubai Airport
Blankon and mic © seasia

Living in a foreign land, far from the archipelago of her hometown for more than 10 years does not limit her to do what she loves doing -- reviving the Javanese language at her best.

Based in Prague, currently engaging herself in a routine as a Javanese language announcer with an American-Czech company, Simpleway, Widya Sykorova's excitement is growing and even getting higher attention from the world these days.

Recently, a Youtube video has gone viral after it showed an Indonesian man giggling at a boarding announcement, made eloquently by Widya at Dubai International Airport.

While a seemingly benign event, the man couldn’t contain his delight and surprise because the language being used for the announcement was his own regional dialect of Javanese, seldom heard outside of Eastern and Central Java, an island off Indonesia.

Since the video began to shared globally, Widya couldn't hide her joyful knowing it.

As a proud Indonesian who loves to embrace the usage of Javanese language, which is claimed to be old-fashioned and a symbol of illiteracy nowadays, such positive reactions gained worldwide really 'triggered' her spirit to keep inspiring through her unique profession.

Widya with her son © Widya's Personal Collection
Widya with her son © Widya's Personal Collection

"Those reactions giving me hope, a big one that "upheaval" or change towards the attitude of Javanese language is really taking place now.

"The appreciation of Indonesian people, particularly Javanese speaking people around the world and media which exposed this story of mine is a pride. Representing it internationally here is even more!" Widya told Seasia.

The 40-year-old mother of two, who is currently also a self-employed teacher at the High Court of Prague added the beauty and originality of Javanese language are essential as a tool to unite the Javanese people in other parts of the world.

"I do strongly believe that language is one of many tools to unite people in one country.

"Language is an important part of one's identity. I may live permanently for years in overseas and speak fluently many other world languages, but I remain Javanese wherever I go. Thus, this phenomenon of Javanese announcements being aired is awakening Javanese identity which has long been 'forgotten and abandoned'," said Widya.

A family portrait  © Widya's Personal Collection
A family portrait © Widya's Personal Collection

Hailed from Malang, the second largest city in East Java, Widya further explained this exposure of one of the world’s classical languages in the international sphere could further elevate the good image of Indonesia as part of the Southeast Asia region, despite many 'disturbing' remarks about her nation.

"Indonesia has been known to the world as a great diverse archipelago with thousands of Islands, hundreds of different ethnic and language groups and its friendliness.

"But recently, Indonesia has been pictured here in the west as a country facing religious intolerance, fragile frictions within society and lacking seriousness in tackling ecological problems. So it's time now for us to get back to how Indonesia was pictured. The beauty of Indonesia should be pictured actively through the social media," she said.

Dubai International Airport © The Straits Times
Dubai International Airport © The Straits Times

Elaborating on the process and challenges faced by Widya as the Javanese voice talent, she said it wasn't easy at the very beginning.

The first year of her four-year contract was the hardest one, she added.

"I intensively needed to record all transcripts, standard transcripts at the airport including departures, arrivals, delays, time sequences, the name of airports around the world, changes of flights, transits and most of the transcripts needed to be recorded for two or three times.

"It was indeed demanding in a way that I was required to keep my voice clear, friendly, with some specific tone with some linguistic codes the sound engineering used. It was stressing at times to think in three languages, English, Czech and Javanese all at once," she said.

Source Image: Airport Suppliers
Source Image: Airport Suppliers

On the same development, looking at the warm remarks received recently, Simpleway on Aug 10 revealed in a statement that it was a happy coincidence that the company found the perfect person (Widya Sykorova) as a professional voice talent for the announcements.

Petr Otoupal, CEO of Simpleway said as they have built a reputation being one of the world’s biggest and best voice libraries for airport announcements, meeting the demand by Dubai International Airport to have announcements in the Javanese language, is indeed a success story.

"But it wasn’t easy finding a Javanese voice talent, particularly when Simpleway is headquartered in Prague in the Czech Republic.

“We always insist on having professional voice talents for our announcements. But sometimes, when it is a lesser used language, it can be a real challenge to find someone of the right calibre.

“However, in this particular instance, we are happy to found Widya, living right on our doorstep in Prague,” said Otoupal.

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