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The Languages and Dialects of Indonesia

 

There are 583 languages and dialects spoken in the archipelago. They normally belong to different ethnic groups of the population. Some of the distinctly different local languages are: Acehnese, Batak, Sundanese, Javanese, Sasak, Tetum of Timor, Dayak, Minahasa, Toraja, Buginese, Halmahera, Ambonese, Ceramese, and several Irianese languages. To make the picture even more colorful, these languages are also spoken in different dialects.

The national language of Indonesia is "Bahasa Indonesia". Originally it was the Malay language mainly spoken in the Riau Islands. In its spread throughout the country, its vocabulary and idioms have been enriched by a great number of local languages. To keep pace with religious, social and cultural progress, many words and terms have been derived from foreign languages, including Dutch, Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic and, later, Portuguese.

Although Bahasa Indonesia has become the lingua franca, local languages and dialects continue to be spoken and will not be abolished.

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Information provided by the Directorate of Foreign Information Services, Department of Information, Republic of Indonesia.

 


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