Languages of Indonesia
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More than 700 living languages are spoken in Indonesia. These figures indicate that Indonesia has about 10% of the world's languages, establishing its reputation as the second most linguistically diverse nation in the world after Papua New Guinea. Most languages belong to the Austronesian language family, while there are over 270 Papuan languages spoken in eastern Indonesia.
Languages in Indonesia are classified into nine categories: national language, locally used indigenous languages, regional lingua francas, foreign and additional languages, heritage languages, languages in the religious domain, English as a lingua franca and sign languages. Of these, Javanese is the largest language by the number of native speakers.
The official language is Indonesian (locally known as bahasa Indonesia), a standardised form of Malay, which serves as the lingua franca of the archipelago. The vocabulary of Indonesian borrows heavily from regional languages of Indonesia, such as Javanese, Sundanese and Minangkabau, as well as from Dutch, Sanskrit, Portuguese, Arabic and more recently English. The Indonesian language is primarily used in commerce, administration, education and the media, and thus nearly every Indonesian speaks the language to varying degrees of proficiency. Most Indonesians speak other languages, such as Javanese, as their first language. This makes plurilingualism a norm in Indonesia.
Indigenous languages and regional lingua francas
Indonesia recognizes only a single national language, and indigenous languages are recognized at the regional level, although policies vary from one region to another. Javanese is the most widely spoken language without official status, as the Javanese are the largest ethnic group, constituting 40.2% of the population, and are politically dominant. They are predominantly located in the central to eastern parts of Java and also sizable numbers in most provinces. The Sundanese, Malay, Batak, Madurese, Minangkabau and Buginese are the next largest groups in the country.[a] A sense of Indonesian nationhood exists alongside strong regional identities.
There are hundreds of indigenous languages spoken in Indonesia. Most of them are locally used indigenous languages, a category of languages referring to those spoken at the local, regional level, spoken by a small number of people, ranging from a few to a few thousands of people. These include small languages such as Benggoi, Mombum and Towei.[page needed] Other languages are spoken at the regional level to connect various ethnicities. For this reason, these languages are known as regional lingua francas (RLFs). According to Subhan Zein, there are at least 43 RLFs in Indonesia, categorized into two types: Malayic RLFs and Non-Malayic RLFs. The former refers to a group of regional lingua francas that are thought of as indigenised varieties of Malay or Indonesian. These include such languages as Ambon Malay, Banjar Malay and Papuan Malay. The latter refers to regional lingua francas that are not associated with Malay or Indonesian, including Biak, Iban and Onin.[page needed][b]
As early as the seventh century AD, the natives of the archipelago began an intense period of trades with those coming from China, India and other countries. This was followed by a long period of colonization by the Dutch and Japan colonials. The outcome of these processes has been the development of a group of heritage languages spoken by Arab, Chinese, Eurasian and Indian descendants, among others. Chinese linguistic varieties such as Hokkien, Hakka, and Mandarin are the most common heritage languages. A small number of heritage language speakers speak Arabic and Tamil.
Despite the Dutch presence in Indonesia for almost 350 years (parts of Indonesia were ruled by the Dutch East India Company and subsequently the whole of what is now Indonesia was in the Dutch East Indies), the Dutch language has no official status there and the small minority that can speak the language fluently are either educated members of the oldest generation, or employed in the legal profession, as certain law codes are still only available in Dutch.
English has traditionally been categorized as the first foreign language in Indonesia. However, increasing exposure to the language, the decreasing influence of native-speaker norms in the country and the prevalent use of the language as a lingua franca in the broader context such as ASEAN means that the categorization has been put into question. Scholars such as Lowenberg argue that English is best seen as an additional language. Meanwhile, Zein argues that English in Indonesia is best categorized as a lingua franca, an argument parallel with Kirkpatrick's contention on the use of English as a lingua franca in the broader ASEAN context.
Other languages such as Arabic, German, French, Japanese, Mandarin and Korean are non-native to Indonesia. These languages are included in the educational curriculum and may be categorized as either foreign or additional languages, depending on the instrumental function of the languages, length and types of exposure, as well as the wide-ranging motivations of the speakers or learners who use and or learn them.
There are 726 languages spoken across the Indonesian archipelago in 2009 (dropped from 742 languages in 2007), the second largest multilingual population in the world after Papua New Guinea. Indonesian Papua, which is adjacent to Papua New Guinea, has the most languages in Indonesia. Based on the EGIDS classification used by Ethnologue (formerly the Summer Institute of Linguistics), 63 languages are dying (shown in red on the bar chart, subdivided into Moribund and Nearly Extinct, or Dormant), which is defined as "The only fluent users (if any) are older than child-bearing age, so it is too late to restore natural intergenerational transmission through the home."
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Indonesia's Minister of Education and Culture Muhammad Nuh affirmed in January 2013 that the teaching of local languages as school subjects will be part of the national education curriculum. Nuh stated that much of the public worry about the teaching of local languages being left out of the curriculum is misplaced and that the new curriculum will be conveyed to them.
Languages by speakers
The population numbers given below are of native speakers, excepting the figure for Indonesian, which counts its total speakers. The total population of the country was 237.6 million in 2010.
Languages by family
Several prominent languages spoken in Indonesia sorted by language family are:
- Austronesian languages – (Malayo-Polynesian branch). Most languages spoken in Indonesia belong to this family, which in return are related to languages spoken in Madagascar, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand, Hawaii and various Oceanian countries.
- Javanese language, spoken in Yogyakarta, Central Java and East Java. Also found throughout Indonesia and by migrants in Suriname. Most populous Austronesian language by number of first language speakers.
- Lampung language, two distinct but closely related languages spoken in Lampung, South Sumatra and Banten.
- Rejang language, spoken in Bengkulu province.
- Malayo-Sumbawan languages:
- Malay language, spoken throughout Indonesia. Also used as the national language (officially regulated and designated as Indonesian).
- Acehnese language, spoken in Aceh, especially coastal part of Sumatra island.
- Minangkabau language, spoken in West Sumatra.
- Banjar language, spoken in South, East, and Central Kalimantan.
- Sundanese language, spoken in West Java, Banten and Jakarta.
- Balinese language, spoken in Bali.
- Madurese language, spoken in Madura, Bawean and surrounding islands off the coast of Java.
- Sasak language, spoken in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
- Barito languages:
- Northwest Sumatra–Barrier Islands languages:
- South Sulawesi languages:
- Philippine languages:
- Enggano language of Sumatra, unclassified
- West Papuan languages, an indigenous language family found only in eastern Indonesia (northern Maluku and western Papua). No discernible relationship with other language families. Distinct from surrounding Austronesian languages.
- Trans–New Guinea languages, an indigenous language family found in eastern Indonesia (New Guinea, Alor, Timor islands). Consisting of hundreds of languages, including the vernaculars of the Asmat and Dani people.
- Mairasi languages (4)
- East Cenderawasih (Geelvink Bay) languages (10)
- Lakes Plain languages (19; upper Mamberamo River)
- Tor–Kwerba languages (17)
- Nimboran languages (5)
- Skou languages (Skou)
- Border languages (15)
- Senagi languages (2)
- Pauwasi languages
There are many additional small families and isolates among the Papuan languages.
- Trans-New Guinea
- North Halmahera
- Nuclear South Bird's Head
- Nuclear East Bird's Head
- West Bird's Head
- Tanah Merah
- Lakes Plain
- Border (also in Papua New Guinea)
- Sko (also in Papua New Guinea)
- East Cenderawasih Bay
- Yam (also in Papua New Guinea)
- Eastern Pauwasi (also in Papua New Guinea)
- Western Pauwasi
- Senagi (Angor-Dera) (also in Papua New Guinea)
Indonesian languages are generally not rendered in native-invented systems, but in scripts devised by speakers of other languages, that is, Tamil, Arabic, and Latin. Malay, for example, has a long history as a written language and has been rendered in Brahmic, Arabic, and Latin scripts. Javanese has been written in the Pallava script of South India, as well as their derivative (known as Kawi and Javanese), in an Arabic alphabet called pegon that incorporates Javanese sounds, and in the Latin script.
Chinese characters have never been used to write Indonesian languages, although Indonesian place-names, personal names, and names of trade goods appear in reports and histories written for China's imperial courts.
List of writing systems
- Latin – The official writing system of Indonesian; most Indonesian vernacular languages now adopt Latin script.
- Kaganga – Historically used to write Rejang, an Austronesian language from Bengkulu.
- Rencong – A Brahmic-based script, formerly used by Malays before the arrival of Islam, which introduced the Jawi script.
- Sundanese – A Brahmic-based script, used by Sundanese to write the Sundanese language, although Sundanese also has a standard Latin orthography.
- Jawi and Pegon – An Arabic-based script, once widely used throughout Indonesia, now in decline but still used by Malays, Minangkabau, Banjarese, Acehnese, Javanese, Osing, Sundanese, and Madurese (which has its own form of Arabic writing known as Pegon.)
- Javanese – A Brahmic-based script used by the Javanese and related peoples. Today the script is in rapid decline and largely supplanted by Latin.
- Kawi script – The oldest known Brahmic writing system in Indonesia and the ancestor to all Brahmic based writing systems in Insular Southeast Asia.
- Balinese – A Brahmic-based script used by the Balinese people to write Balinese. It is closely related to Javanese script.
- Rejang – A Brahmic-based script used by the Rejang people of Bengkulu, Sumatra. It is closely related to Kerinci, Lampung and Rencong script.
- Kerinci (Kaganga) – A Brahmic-based script used by the Kerincis to write their language.
- Batak – A Brahmic-based script, used by the Batak people of North Sumatra.
- Lontara – A Brahmic-based script, used by the Buginese and Makassarese in Sulawesi.
- Lampung – A Brahmic-based script, still used by Lampung people to write Lampung language, although they are in rapid decline. Lampung script is closely related to Rencong, Kerinci and Rejang script.
- Hangeul Cia-Cia – The Hangeul script used to write the Cia-Cia language in Buton Island, Southeast Sulawesi.
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The following texts are translations of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the languages of Indonesia.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
- Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia)
Semua orang dilahirkan merdeka dan mempunyai martabat dan hak-hak yang sama. Mereka dikaruniai akal dan hati nurani dan hendaknya bergaul satu sama lain dalam semangat persaudaraan.
- Javanese (Basa Jawa)
Sabên manungsa kalairake mardika lan darbe martabat lan hak-hak kang pada. Kabeh pinaringan akal lan kalbu sarta kaajab anggone pasrawungan mêmitran siji lan liyane tansah ngugemi jiwa paseduluran.
- Malay (Bahasa Melayu)
Semua manusia dilahirkan bebas dan samarata dari segi kemuliaan dan hak-hak. Mereka mempunyai pemikiran dan perasaan hati dan hendaklah bertindak di antara satu sama lain dengan semangat persaudaraan.
- Minangkabau (Baso Minangkabau)
Sadonyo manusia dilahiakan mardeka dan punyo martabat sarato hak-hak nan samo. Mareka dikaruniai aka jo hati nurani, supayo satu samo lain bagaul sarupo urang badunsanak.
- Buginese (Basa Ugi)
Sininna rupa tau ri jajiangngi rilinoe nappunnai manengngi riasengnge alebbireng . Nappunai riasengnge akkaleng, nappunai riasengnge ati marennni na sibole bolena pada sipakatau pada massalasureng.
- Balinese (Basa Bali)
Sami manusane sane nyruwadi wantah merdeka tur maduwe kautamaan lan hak-hak sane pateh. Sami kalugrain papineh lan idep tur mangdane pada masawitra melarapan semangat pakulawargaan.
- Sundanese (Basa Sunda)
Sakumna jalma gubrag ka alam dunya téh sipatna merdika jeung boga martabat katut hak-hak anu sarua. Maranéhna dibéré akal jeung haté nurani, campur-gaul jeung sasamana aya dina sumanget duduluran.
- Madurese (Basa Madura)
Sadajana oreng lahir mardika e sarenge drajat klaban hak-hak se dha-padha. Sadajana eparenge akal sareng nurani ban kodu areng-sareng akanca kadi taretan.
- Musi (Baso Pelembang)
Galo-galo uwong dari lahirnyo bebas, samorato martabat jugo hak-haknyo. Wong dienjuk utak samo raso ati, kendaknyo tu begaul sesamo manusio pecak wong sedulur.
- Acehnese (Bahsa Acèh)
Bandum ureuëng lahé deungon meurdéhka, dan deungon martabat dan hak njang saban. Ngon akai geuseumiké, ngon haté geumeurasa, bandum geutanjoë lagèë sjèëdara.
- Tetum (Lia-Tetun)
Ema hotu hotu moris hanesan ho dignidade ho direitu. Sira hotu iha hanoin, konsiensia n'e duni tenki hare malu hanesan espiritu maun-alin.
- Dawan (Uab Metô)
Atoni ma bife ok-okê mahonis kamafutû ma nmuî upan ma hak namnés. Sin napein tenab ma nekmeü ma sin musti nabai es nok es onlê olif-tataf.
Kanan mansian mahonis merdeka ma nok upan ma hak papmesê. Sin naheun nok tenab ma nekmeû ma sin es nok es musti nfain onlê olif-tataf.
- Banjar (Bahasa Banjar)
Sabarataan manusia diranakakan bibas mardika wan ba'isi martabat lawan jua ba'isi hak-hak nang sama. Bubuhannya sabarataan dibari'i akal wan jua pangrasa hati nurani, supaya samunyaan urang antara sa'ikung lawan sa'ikung bapatutan nangkaya urang badangsanakan.
- Lampung (Bahasa Lampung)
Unyin Jelema dilaheʁko merdeka jama wat pi'il ʁik hak sai gokgoh. Tiyan dikaruniako akal jama hati nurani maʁai unggal tiyan dapok nengah nyampoʁ dilom semangat muaʁiyan.
- Rejangese (Baso Jang)
Manusio kutə yo lahia mərdeka ngən punyo hak dik samo. Manusio nəlie Tuhan aka ngən atie, kərno o kəlak nə itə bəkuat do dik luyən nak ləm raso səpasuak.
- Bengkulu Malay (Bahaso Melayu Bengkulu)
Segalo orang dilahirkan merdeka kek punyo martabat kek hak-hak yang samo. Tobonyo dikasi akal kek hati nurani supayo bekawan dalam raso cak orang besanak.
Below is a chart of several Indonesian languages. All of them except for Galela belong to the Austronesian language family. While there have been misunderstandings on which ones should be classified as languages and which ones should be classified as dialects, the chart confirms that many have similarities, yet are not mutually comprehensible. The languages are arranged geographically.
|Acehnese||sa||dua||lhèë||peuët||ië||ureuëng||rumoh||asèë||miong / miei||u||uroë||ban||geutanyoë||peuë||ngon|
|Kenyah Dayak||sé||dué||telew||pat||sungai||kelunan / klunan||lamin / uma'||asew||séang||nyo||dau||maring||mé' tew / teleu||inew||ngan|
- Small but significant populations of ethnic Chinese, Indians, Europeans and Arabs are concentrated mostly in urban areas.
- Zein's definition of "Malayic" RLFs should not be confused with the genealogical Malayic subgroup of Malayo-Polynesian languages. The genealogical Malayic subgroup also includes languages that are listed by Zein as "non-Malayic" RLFs, such as Iban and Musi.
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