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Reasons Why the Indonesian (and Malaysian) Language is Easy to Learn

Indonesian Road Sign
Reasons Why the Indonesian (and Malaysian) Language is Easy to Learn
on January, 22 2014

Malaysia and Indonesia share a lot in common and one of them is their official language. Though there are slight differences in some words, the language used in these two countries are generally the same. Bahasa Indonesia or Bahasa Melayu is spoken by over 200 million speakers worldwide, making it among the top 10 most spoken languages in the world. In fact, its native speakers extend up to Brunei, Southern Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the Sulu archipelago in the Philippines. The most exciting part is that this language is considered to be among the easiest to learn languages in the world. Here are the reasons why.

Origin of the Language

Bahasa is remotely related to the English language even if there are instances in which it follows the same syntax. Its close relative is the Austronesian language family. Some other languages belonging to this family include Javanese and Balinese (both spoken in Indonesia), Malagasy (Madagascar), and Tagalog (Philippines). Over the years, some words spoken in Indonesian have also been officially accepted in the English dictionary. This includes sago, gong, sarong and kapok. Due to trade and commerce in the past, the language has spread across different parts of the Asia- Pacific, making it a widely spoken language.

Why it is easy to learn

Learning a particular language is easy or difficult depending on your native language. However, according to those who have tried learning Bahasa Indonesia from different parts of the world, it is a relatively easy language to learn. Here are some possible reasons:

• It is not a tonal language. For English and Western speakers who are not used to tonal languages, hearing Bahasa for the first time seems really straightforward and direct. It is easy to imitate and pronounce without difficulty of being understood.

• Since Bahasa has a lot of relative languages in some parts of Asia and Africa, those who already speak the relative language can easily adopt to it. Even if there is a need to differentiate some words, when it comes to pronunciation and sentence formation, it is more or less the same. In fact, some words were also borrowed from Dutch, Sanskrit and even Arabic.

• Bahasa is also referred to as “agglutinative”. It means that it has a lot of prefixes and suffixes. Some basic words only need to have additional affixes in order for it to form a totally different meaning. It could change the tense or number of the word. For English speakers, it is a very easy task to follow.

• The grammatical rules in the language are not that difficult. In fact, even if you do not totally follow the rules in grammar for sentence formation, you will still be understood. As long as the key words are found in the sentence, you can already express a complete thought.

Importance of Learning the Language

Both Indonesia and Malaysia are top tourist destinations in Asia. It is a home to several infrastructures and natural wonders. If you wish to go to these countries, you might encounter a lot of people who can’t speak English. If you bring some Bahasa Indonesia words with you, conveying your thoughts while on the streets would be very easy. These 2 countries are also among the biggest economies in Southeast Asia. Should you wish to do trade and business in these countries, knowing how to speak the language is a huge advantage.

To top it all, wouldn’t it be fun to be able to learn a new language that won’t take forever for you to learn? Just give it a try and you will surely enjoy it.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

  • Interactive Indonesian

    I am intrigued by this statement - "If you bring SOME Bahasa Indonesia words with you." Sometimes we forget that all we need (at least to start with) is to know how to say "hello" or "thank you" in someone else's heart language/mother tongue. A little bit goes a long way!

    I love Indonesia, her people, and Bahasa Indonesia.

    Nathan @ Interactive Indonesian

  • lili

    I'm looking to be a translator English, French, Indonesian. How? Any tips?

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