In­done­sian THE LAN­GUAGE OF IN­DE­PEN­DENCE

Asian Geographic - - On Assignment - WRIT­TEN SCRIPT

A stan­dard­ised va­ri­ety of Malay, In­done­sian (Ba­hasa In­done­sia) was on the path to be­com­ing In­done­sia’s of­fi­cial lan­guage by 1928 with the In­done­sian na­tion­al­ist move­ment. The name of the lan­guage was of­fi­cially changed from Malay to In­done­sian, or Ba­hasa In­done­sia (lit­er­ally, ‘the lan­guage of In­done­sia’), and it be­came the of­fi­cial lan­guage of the Repub­lic of In­done­sia in 1945 with the coun­try’s in­de­pen­dence.

Malay/in­done­sian be­longs to the Aus­trone­sian lan­guage fam­ily. For cen­turies, a col­lo­quial va­ri­ety known as Bazar Malay has been used as a lin­gua franca in the In­done­sian ar­chi­pel­ago for trad­ing and other pur­poses among speak­ers of dif­fer­ent re­gional lan­guages. Even to­day, in ad­di­tion to In­done­sian, lo­cal peo­ple are of­ten flu­ent in more re­gion­ally preva­lent lan­guages, e.g. Ja­vanese in the cen­tral and eastern parts of Java, Acehnese in north­ern Su­ma­tra, or Ba­li­nese in Bali. Th­ese in­dige­nous lan­guages are gen­er­ally used among the lo­cal com­mu­nity and at home.

Ac­cord­ing to Eth­no­logue, there are cur­rently roughly 23 mil­lion speak­ers of In­done­sian as a first lan­guage. Most con­tem­po­rary for­mal ed­u­ca­tion and much of the na­tional me­dia are in In­done­sian.

A com­mon In­done­sian ex­pres­sion, sayang, can mean ‘dear, love, sweetie, com­pas­sion’ or ‘a pity, too bad, waste’. Thus, one can say sayang-sayang to ba­bies whether they are smil­ing or cry­ing to in­di­cate one’s feel­ings of ei­ther ‘Very sweet!’ or ‘What a pity!’ to­ward them.

BACK­GROUND De­rived from the Malay lan­guage, In­done­sian dif­fers in that its vo­cab­u­lary en­com­passes words of Ja­vanese and Dutch ori­gins. It is the na­tional lan­guage of In­done­sia, but it is not widely con­sid­ered as the mother tongue of the In­done­sian peo­ple, ex­cept in Jakarta and nearby.

Like Malay, In­done­sian uses the Latin al­pha­bet. Though it un­der­went an of­fi­cial spell­ing re­form in 1972 af­ter the coun­try’s in­de­pen­dence, some of the names and places in In­done­sia still use the old ro­man­ised Dutch spell­ing. For ex­am­ple, Jog­jakarta is some­times still spelt as ‘Yo­gyakarta’.

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