(What I think about Indonesian) : Some Facts About Bahasa Indonesia


Happy Monday!
Never let your fun lose though it’s been Monday. And those who’re still on Sunday, enjoy your holiday. For today, I’d like to give you some fun facts, related to my national language, bahasa Indonesia or called Indonesian. I don’t know why many Westerners just simply named it ‘Bahasa’ and it’s been identical, though the word itself derived from Sanskrit ‘Bhasha’.

Okay, let me start

1. It is a standardized form of High Malay, and named Bahasa Indonesia after 28 October 1928 on Youth Congress in Jakarta which issued the famous Youth Vow (Sumpah Pemuda).

2. It has changed spelling for three times. Started from Ophuysen spelling (Dutch based) between 1900-1947, Suwandi spelling (Mixed-based) 1947-1972, New spelling (Ejaan Yang Disempurnakan) 1972-present.

3. Bahasa Indonesia became trully official language during Japanes occupation which banned Dutch for official matters.

4. Bahasa Indonesia is not just official language, but also unifying one for more than 500 ethnic groups.

5. Bahasa Indonesia is spoken widely by more than 250 millions. So it means monolingualism is very low and practically Indonesians are bilingual.

6. Grammatically, Bahasa Indonesia is quite simple language. There’s no verbal changes in present, past, perfect and future. Just add time adverbs, you can express time.

Ex :
Saya membeli kelapa – I buy coconut
Saya membeli kelapa kemarin – I bought coconut yesterday
Saya sudah membeli kelapa – I have bought coconut
Saya akan membeli kelapa besok – I’ll buy coconut tomorrow

Maria menulis surat – Maria writes a letter
Maria menulis surat tadi malam – Maria wrote a letter last night
Maria sudah menulis surat – Maria has written a letterMaria akan menulis surat besok – Maria will write a letter tomorrow

7. Bahasa Indonesia doesn’t use grammatical gender, and only selected words use natural gender. He/She will be translated into ‘Dia’, boyfriend/girlfriend just ‘pacar’. Some words have natural gender such as ‘putra’ (boy), ‘putri’ (girl), ‘pramugara’ (steward), ‘pramugari’ (stewardess), Sukarelawan (male volunteer), sukarelawati (female volunteer) etc.

8. Bahasa Indonesia, as other Austronesian languages is an agglutinative language.

9. Bahasa Indonesia knows repetitions for representing plural. Such as : kucing-kucing (cats), anjing-anjing (dogs), gadis-gadis (girls), rumah-rumah (houses), orang-orang (persons) etc. But for some words, it can be used ‘para’. Example ‘Para menteri’ (The ministers), ‘para gadis’ (the girls) etc.

10. Some words almost identic and it can be tricky especially for whose learning bahasa Indonesia. For example :

– kelapa (coconut) and kepala (head)
– masuk (enter) and mabuk (getting drunk)

11. Bahasa Indonesian versions can be listened in the following worldwide stations

– BBC Siaran Bahasa Indonesia
NHK Siaran Bahasa Indonesia
VOA Siaran Bahasa Indonesia
ABC Australia
– Radio International Islamic Iran
KBS World Radio (Korea)
Deutsch Welle
– RTV Mustika Suriname
– RTV Garuda Suriname
– and many more…

*From various sources

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. I speak Dutch (well Flemish actually but that’s not really an official term), it’s funny how many Indonesian words resemble Dutch so much! It’s been very fun learning about your language, thanks for the instructive facts!

    1. Hehehehe, you’re welcome. Is it little bit different right? between Netherlands Dutch and Flemish I mean.. Because of colonizations, we have absorbed many Dutch words up to now, though Anglicization has been massive coz of globalization

  2. Oh yes, Dutch and Flemish is very different, especially in pronunciation!

    1. But still understood each other, right?

      1. Most of the time, yes. But when we both speak our dialect, we hardly understand each other. It’s like Germany & Austria: both speak German, but they speak it so differently that they don’t always understand each other.

      2. Much alike when I speak to a Malaysian..I understand them around 70%, but the rests there are many differences and false friends everywhere. And how about when you meet an Afrikaans speaker?

      3. Afrikaans is fairly easy to understand – much harder to speak it yourself though 🙂 I imagine you understand a bit of Afrikaans too!

      4. Yes, I understand some..but there are several funny things I found in Afrikaans.

        I thing there are more than 1000 Indonesian words rooted from Dutch (either old or newer ones), and even in our regional languages as well. Javanese tend to say motorcycle as ‘bronpit’ from broomfiets for example.

      5. And ‚knalpot’ for garage 😉

      6. Hahahaha…garasi if garage…
        Dasi for Das
        Tas for tas
        Rok for rok
        and many more…even Malaysians do not understand as they tend to adopt more English words than ours. You know, since 1824, our languages seemed developed by its own, though we still understand and try to standardize it.

      7. Ban, rem, lem (lijm), klakson, persneling, dongkrak (dommekracht) etc

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