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Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia since 1945. It is a part of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca(working language) in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries.


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Brief history

During the time before independence, Indonesia was a Dutch colony, the Latin alphabet was introduced to write Indonesian and a number of Dutch spellings were used. This alphabet was called ejaan lama (Old Script) in Indonesian. In the 1930s, as part of the independence movement, the Indonesian language was standardized and the term Bahasa Indonesia was adopted as the name of the language.


In 1947 the spelling of oe was changed to u. Then in 1972 a set of official changes to the Indonesian spelling system were introduced by former president Soeharto. The major changes included changing ch to kh, dj to j, j to y, nj to ny, sj to sy, and tj to c.


Number of speakers

About 30 million people speak Indonesian as their first language and a further 140 million speak it as a second language. Overall 23,187,680 speakers  widespread in Indonesia.  Also  in Netherlands, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, united states. Indonesian is a 20th century name for Malay. Depending on how you define a language and how you count its number of speakers, today Malay-Indonesian ranks around sixth or seventh in size among the world’s languages. It is also an important vernacular in the southern provinces of Thailand, in East Timor and among the Malay people of Australia’s Cocos Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean. It is understood in parts of the Sulu area of the southern Philippines and traces of it are to be found among people of Malay descent in Sri Lanka, South Africa and other places.


Official status

The status of Indonesian language is the official language of the Republic of Indonesia, thus its usage is encouraged throughout Indonesia. The Constitution of Indonesia 1945 Chapter XV specifies the flag, official language, coat of arms, and national anthem of Indonesia. The Indonesian law No. 24 year 2009 Chapter III Section 25 to 45 mentioned specifically about Indonesian language status. The number of people who speak Indonesian fluently is fast approaching 100%, making Indonesian one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.


Regulatory body

Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa



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