Talk:Languages of Indonesia

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Why is Indonesian not in the table? FilipeS 16:46, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that the word Indonesian is not really of indigenous origins. Isn't it a name given by the Dutch to its former colonies? Just like the word Indochina or Indochine given by the French, and India given by the British. Wiki Raja 23:17, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
The language is officially known as Bahasa Indonesia. Signed, your friendly neighborhood MessedRocker. 23:31, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
It is officially known as Bahasa Indonesia, but how old is the term "Indonesia" and what is the root of the word or origination? For example, we have America, but that is not indigenous since it was called that after the Italian traveller Amerigo Di Vecupucci. Also, is the language "Indonesian" slang for Javanese or Malay? Wiki Raja 19:11, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Neither, it is a language on its own.Bakaman 02:17, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
Where are your sources? and why the interest in Indonesian languages all of a sudden? Wiki Raja 06:12, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
I've worked on a large array of Indonesia related articles if you ask people like: Dboy, Sengkang, Meursault, etc, so nothing is sudden here. Btw, the proof is in the Indonesian_language article, its a standardized form of Malay, borrowing heavily from Dutch.Bakaman 23:57, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
Many languages in Indonesia are vernaculars (they are spoken rather than written) but they are not dialects - Javanese and Malay may be related, but they are not dialects of one or the other, any more than Italian is a dialect of Spanish. Chinese dialects like Mandarin and Cantonese are realy distinct languages, but they use the same writing system, based on characters. That's never been the case with Indonesian languages.
Wiki Raja, the origin of Indonesia is indeed not indigenous, coming from the Greek for Indian islands - the Dutch called what is now Indonesia the Netherlands East Indies, which in Indonesian, were known as Hindia Belanda. However, the nationalist leaders decided to call the country Indonesia, and its official language Indonesian. Quiensabe 15:41, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Nationalism may go a little bit too far in a lot of countries. By what I mean, countries that deem the other languages of a country as dialects. A dialiects of a particular language are basically a language spoken in different accents. Wiki Raja 21:03, 19 March 2007 (UTC)


I'm surprised that Dutch is not on the list, given that Indonesia was a Dutch colony for so long. Aren't there any Dutch speakers remaining? Dutch is listed as a language in the CIA factbook entry, but it doesn't give an estimated number of speakers. I have no idea, and I'm neither Dutch nor Indonesian. Just curious. --Itub 19:13, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

AFAIK, Dutch is used only by some small groups of (elderly) people, especially of Maluku and Manado origin. Dutch is taught also in some universities, as a language itself, or learned to help understanding in law literatures (Indonesia still uses continental system of law). The number of Dutch user nowadays is relatively very low. Kembangraps 18:24, 12 May 2007 (UTC)


If a tourist speaks in Malay, would it be understood in Indonesia? Are these two languages mutually intelligible like Tamil and Malayalam? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:55, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Most Indonesians understand Malay's dialect of Malaysia, because it is also used in the regions such as Riau and Kalimantan.back to goguryeo (talk) 03:56, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Chinese languages[edit]

When adding up the numbers of speakers of Chinese languages it comes to a total of 22.1 million speakers. According to most statistics, there are around 8 million ethnic Chinese in Indonesia. Why this huge discrepancy? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Takeaway (talkcontribs) 20:50, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Undoubtedly there is overlap. Some of my Chinese-Indonesian friends speak several languages (aka dialects). But the figures do seem rather high, given that the Indonesia page's Demography section claims only 1% of Indonesia is ethnic Chinese. So, one would think that no single Chinese language has more than 2-3 million speakers, unless there are lots of fluent pribumi, but my guess is that most pribumi are only partially fluent (Chinese might be their fourth language). Martindo (talk) 00:17, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

I found MUCH lower figures at under a million for each of the three dialects listed in the table BUT the stats are from the early 1980s. Note that the Ethnologue page is about Java/Bali but the stats for Chinese speakers refer to the entire country as noted in the Ethnologue text. Martindo (talk) 00:25, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Pending clear sources, I updated the Chinese figures to fit their original location in the table. Note that Fujian and Teo Chew are considered two subdialects of Min Nan -- maybe should not be listed separatedly here. Comments from speakers of those languages, please! Martindo (talk) 00:37, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Expanded Table of Languages[edit]

After a thorough review of the 2009 version of Ethnologue, I made several revisions:

1. New Column called "year surveyed" (with "census" inserted if indicated by Ethnologue). This column is necessary because caution should be exercised when comparing a tally taken in 1982 (e.g., Chinese) and one taken in 2000 (e.g., Nias).

I generally assumed that large languages continue to grow as the population increases. Thus, when figures were equal, I listed the language surveyed earlier ahead of the other(s).

2. Extended the list to include languages that can be rounded up to 300,000 native speakers. This was somewhat arbitrary, based on reviewing the Ethnologue page for Java/Bali first, and encountering Osing there. We can discuss whether to change the lower cutoff.

HOWEVER, a cutoff of 1 million would mean excluding Chinese languages, unless someone can find WP:RS figures showing over that number of native speakers. Alternatively, an exception could be made for Chinese (as done for Indonesian itself at the top of the table) by noting that the tally includes non-native speakers. A reliable source would be needed for figures that include second-language speakers.

3. According to Ethnologue and WP, both Hokkien and Teochew are part of the Min Nan language, thus they have been grouped as one entry in the table.

4. I avoided entries for "Malay" in various regions of Indonesia because Ethnologue's use of that term as part of a language name (e.g., Jambi Malay) seems to hedge the distinction between dialect and language. I only included languages named "x Malay" if that province had no other languages of comparable size.

Kindly discuss any changes here and wait a day or three before implementing them. Martindo (talk) 01:20, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Indonesian/Malay: different languages ?[edit]

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Are you sure Indonesian and Malay can be merged as one language? They really seem to be two separate languages according to Wikipedia's statistics patterns : Indonesian in Indonesia and Malay in Malaysia. Or is that a simple question of name and nationalism like Romanian and Moldavian which are the same language ? --Loup Solitaire 81 (talk) 21:07, 28 January 2015 (UTC)