A Quick glance to Indonesian and Malay Languages

For those who don’t know, Indonesian language is the national language of Indonesia while Malay language is the national language in Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and one of the official language of Singapore. Both languages especially Malay is also understood in Southern part of Thailand.

It seems easy people tend to say that Malay have more native speakers than Indonesian. However with population of Indonesia outnumbered population of those three countries, Indonesian language seems more popular. Nevertheless, there are many Indonesian provinces especially in Sumatra Island like Riau, Jambi, Kepulauan Riau speak Malay as their second language. And Indonesian origins in some Malaysia states like Negeri Sembilan and Johor can also speak Indonesian in very good level.

It’s never a problem. What I want to share is some of my opinions about the using of both languages. There are many similarities between the language that made two or more person speaking with both languages can understand to each other. I’ve heard some stories that some foreigners wondering how Malaysian and Indonesian can speak and understand with their own language. And also some tourist diaries questioning why they felt like they’re still staying in one country while they have already crossed Malacca strait because of hearing people in both countries speaking very similar words.

Indonesian borrowed many Dutch vocabularies mixed with old Malay, Java language, Sunda, Minang, and other variant local language in Indonesia. Malay itself is actually a very old language with evolution and change including, borrowing a lot from English, turn it into a modern Malay language like we heard today. It makes sense since Indonesia was under Nederland colonial government before 1945 Independence Day while Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei were under United Kingdom colonial government before 60’s decade

Actually the origin Indonesian during Sukarno regime (Indonesia first president) had much differences with Malay. But enter the 60’s and 70’s decades, Indonesian language experts and respective Government Official Department decide to adjust and re-arrange Indonesian language, and now the modern Indonesian is very similar to Malay.

I will try to write new blog about their technical similarities and differences, plus the using of both of them next time.


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