|Spoken in||Indonesia East Timor (as a "working language")|
|Total speakers||23 million native; approx. 165 million total|
|Ranking||41 (native), 9 (fluent)|
|Writing system||Latin alphabet|
|Official language in||Indonesia|
|Regulated by||Pusat Bahasa|
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.|
Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is the official language of Indonesia. Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau dialect of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries.
Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world. Of its large population the number of people who fluently speak Indonesian is fast approaching 100%, thus making Indonesian one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Most Indonesians, aside from speaking the national language, are often fluent in another regional language (examples include Javanese, Minangkabau and Sundanese) which are commonly used at home and within the local community. Most formal education, as well as nearly all national media and other forms of communication, are conducted in Indonesian. In East Timor, which was an Indonesian province from 1975 to 1999, Indonesian is recognised by the constitution as one of the two working languages (the other is English, alongside the official languages of Tetum and Portuguese).
The Indonesian name for the language is Bahasa Indonesia (literally "the language of Indonesia"). This term can sometimes still be found in written or spoken English. In addition, the language is sometimes referred to as "Bahasa" by English speakers, though this simply means "language" and thus does not technically specify the Indonesian language.
Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau dialect of the Malay language, an Austronesian (and Malayo-Polynesian) language originally spoken in Northeast Sumatra which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for half a millennium. It was elevated to the status of official language with the Indonesian declaration of independence in 1945, drawing inspiration from the Sumpah Pemuda (Youth's Oath) event in 1928. Indonesian (in its most standard form) is largely mutually intelligible with the official Malaysian form of Malay. However, it does differ from Malaysian in several aspects, with differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. These differences are mainly due to the Dutch and Javanese influences on Indonesian. Indonesian was also influenced by the "bazaar Malay" that was the lingua franca of the archipelago in colonial times, and thus indirectly by the other spoken languages of the islands: Malaysian Malay claims to be closer to the literary Malay of earlier centuries.
Whilst Indonesian is spoken as a mother tongue by only a small proportion of Indonesia's large population (i.e. mainly those who reside within the vicinity of Jakarta), over 200 million people regularly make use of the national language - some with varying degrees of proficiency. In a nation which boasts more than 300 native languages and a vast array of ethnic groups, it plays an important unifying and cross-archipelagic role for the country. Use of the national language is abundant in the media, government bodies, schools, universities, workplaces, amongst members of the Indonesian upper-class or nobility and also in many other formal situations.
Standard and formal Indonesian is used in books and newspapers, on television/radio news broadcasts, however few native Indonesian speakers use formal language in their daily conversations. While this is a phenomenon common to most languages in the world (for example, spoken English does not always correspond to written standards), the degree of "correctness" of spoken Indonesian (in terms of grammar and vocabulary) by comparison to its written form is noticeably low. This is mostly due to Indonesians combining aspects of their own local languages (e.g., Javanese, Sundanese, Balinese, and Chinese dialects) with Indonesian. This results in various 'regional' Indonesian dialects, the very types that a foreigner is most likely to hear upon arriving in any Indonesian city or town. This phenomenon is amplified by the use of Indonesian slang, particularly in the cities.
The language is spoken throughout Indonesia (and East Timor), although it is used most extensively as a first language in urban areas and usually as a second or third language in more rural parts of Indonesia. It is also spoken by an additional 1.5+ million people worldwide, particularly in the Netherlands, Suriname, East Timor, the Philippines, Australia, Saudi Arabia, New Caledonia, and the United States.
Indonesian is written with the Latin alphabet. Consonants are represented in a way similar to Italian, although ‹c› is always /tʃ/ (like English ‹ch›), ‹g› is always /ɡ/ ("hard") and ‹j› represents /dʒ/ as it does in English. In addition, ‹ny› represents the palatal nasal /ɲ/, ‹ng› is used for the velar nasal /ŋ/ (which can occur word-initially), ‹sy› for /ʃ/ (English ‹sh›) and ‹kh› for the voiceless velar fricative /x/. Both /e/ and /ə/ are represented with ‹e›.
One common source of confusion for readers, particularly when reading place names, is the spelling changes in the language that have occurred since Indonesian independence. The changes include:
The first of these changes (‹oe› to ‹u›) occurred around the time of independence in 1947; all of the others were a part of the Perfected Spelling System, an officially-mandated spelling reform in 1972. Some of the old spellings (which were derived from Dutch orthography) do survive in proper names; for example, the name of a former president of the Indonesia is still sometimes written Soeharto, and the central Java city of Yogyakarta is sometimes written Jogjakarta.