Confused about the official language of Indonesia? This explanation might help.
Comprising over 17,000 islands, each with its own unique culture and language, Indonesia is a vast and diverse country located in Southeast Asia. The official language of Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia, which is also known as Indonesian. Bahasa Indonesia is a standardized form of the Malay language, which was used as a lingua franca across the Indonesian archipelago during the colonial period.
Bahasa Indonesia was chosen as the official language of Indonesia after the country gained independence from the Netherlands in 1945. At the time, there were many different languages spoken across the country, and the new government recognized that a single, national language was needed to unify the people and facilitate communication.
One reason why Bahasa Indonesia was seen as the ideal choice was that it was already widely spoken. Moreover, it did not belong to any one ethnic group, thus avoiding the perception of favoritism towards a particular community.
The process of standardizing Bahasa Indonesia began in the 1920s when a group of Indonesian intellectuals began promoting the idea of a national language. They recognized that Malay, which was already widely spoken across the archipelago, could serve as a basis for a standardized language. Malay had been used as a trading language for centuries and was already familiar to many people, especially in coastal regions.
The process of standardization involved choosing a dialect of Malay as the basis for the new language and then developing a set of rules for grammar and vocabulary. The dialect chosen was the Riau Malay, which was spoken in the Riau Islands, a group of islands located in the South China Sea between the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. Riau Malay was chosen because it was seen as a neutral dialect, not associated with any particular ethnic group or region.
The grammar of Bahasa Indonesia was largely based on that of Riau Malay, but with some modifications to make it more suitable for a national language.
For example, the use of passive voice was reduced, and the use of active voice was encouraged. The vocabulary of Bahasa Indonesia was drawn from a variety of sources, including Malay, Dutch, Sanskrit, Arabic, and Javanese. The language was designed to be easy to learn, with simple and regular grammar and a phonetic writing system.
Today, Bahasa Indonesia is the language of government, education, business, and media in Indonesia. It is also the lingua franca, or common language, of the country, spoken by people of all ethnic backgrounds. According to the Indonesian Constitution, every citizen has the right to use Bahasa Indonesia, and the government is responsible for promoting and developing the language.
While Bahasa Indonesia is the official language of Indonesia, it is by no means the only language spoken in the country. Indonesia is home to over 700 different languages, making it one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world. Many of these languages are spoken only by small communities and are in danger of dying out.
Some of the other major languages spoken in Indonesia include Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese. Javanese is the largest language community in Indonesia, with more than 83 million speakers. It is spoken mainly in Java, but also in other parts of Indonesia and even in some parts of Malaysia. Sundanese is spoken by around 42 million people, mainly in West Java. Balinese is spoken by around 4 million people on the island of Bali.
These regional languages have their own unique grammatical rules, vocabulary, and pronunciation, which make them distinct from Bahasa Indonesia. They are often used in informal settings, such as within families or in local communities, and are an important part of Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in promoting and preserving these.