What Languages are Spoken in Indonesia?

What Languages are Spoken in Indonesia?

Think of a language that connects thousands of islands and is spoken by millions. That's Bahasa Indonesia, the main language of Indonesia. It's more than just words; it's a bridge that brings together people from different islands and backgrounds.

So, what's special about Bahasa Indonesia? Why do so many people speak it? And how did it become so important in a country with so many different languages? In this blog post, we'll dive into Bahasa Indonesia's story, its history, its role in everyday life, and why it's loved by so many.

From big cities like Jakarta to small villages in Bali, Bahasa Indonesia is everywhere. Let's find out more about this amazing language that ties Indonesia together.

What is "Bahasa Indonesia"?

The term "Bahasa" simply means "language" in Indonesian. When combined with "Indonesia", it refers to the official language of the country. It's a way to distinguish the national language from the hundreds of local languages and dialects spoken across the islands.

How did Bahasa Indonesia become the national language?

With over 700 living languages in Indonesia, choosing a national language was no small feat. Bahasa Indonesia, based on the Malay language, was chosen for its neutrality. It wasn't the mother tongue of any major ethnic group, making it a unifying choice.

A Glimpse into the History of Bahasa Indonesia

The roots of Bahasa Indonesia can be traced back to the Malay language, which was used as a lingua franca in the region for trade and communication for centuries. However, the evolution of the language was significantly influenced by various foreign powers that came to the archipelago. Notably, during the Portuguese colonial period in the 16th and 17th centuries, a number of Portuguese words were integrated into the local vocabulary. Words like "meja" (table), "sepatu" (shoes), and "gereja" (church) are testaments to this influence. Additionally, the Dutch, who colonized Indonesia for over three centuries, also left a linguistic imprint. Despite these foreign influences, Bahasa Indonesia has always retained its unique character, serving as a symbol of national identity and unity. Over time, especially after Indonesia's independence in 1945, Bahasa Indonesia was standardized and promoted as the national language, bridging the diverse linguistic landscape of the country.

Is Bahasa Indonesia similar to Malay?

Yes, Bahasa Indonesia and Malay (spoken in Malaysia, Brunei, and parts of Singapore) share a lot of similarities due to their common roots. However, over time, they have evolved separately and have distinct vocabularies and pronunciations.

What's unique about the Indonesian language?

One of the most unique aspects is its system of affixes (prefixes, suffixes, and infixes) that can change the meaning of words dramatically. For example, the word "makan" means "to eat", but "kemakan" means "accidentally eaten".

Percentage of People Speaking Bahasa Indonesia

  • Native Speakers: Roughly 43% of the population, or about 115 million people, speak Bahasa Indonesia as their first language. These are primarily individuals from regions where Malay, the root language of Bahasa Indonesia, was historically spoken.

  • Second Language Speakers: An impressive 90% or more of the population can speak Bahasa Indonesia fluently as a second language. This means that out of the country's 270 million inhabitants, over 243 million people are conversant in Bahasa Indonesia, even if it's not their mother tongue.

How difficult is it to learn Bahasa Indonesia?

For English speakers, Bahasa Indonesia is considered one of the easier languages to learn. It uses the Latin alphabet, has a straightforward pronunciation, and lacks complex tenses.

Discover Bahasa Indonesia with Berlitz Thailand

In conclusion, the rich tapestry of Bahasa Indonesia's history and its pivotal role in uniting a diverse nation make it a language worth exploring. If you're inspired to embark on this linguistic journey, look no further than Berlitz Thailand. Our Bahasa Indonesia language course, underpinned by the renowned Berlitz Method, ensures an immersive learning experience. Taught by native instructors, our courses are meticulously designed to offer you an authentic taste of the language and culture. Whether you prefer the flexibility of online learning or the traditional feel of onsite classes, we've got you covered. Dive deep into the world of Bahasa Indonesia with Berlitz Thailand, and experience the language in its purest form.