Bahasa Indonesia is
the correct term for the Indonesian language. At times foreigners may refer to
it as only Bahasa, but the word Bahasa simply means language.
Likewise, Bahasa Inggris refers to the English language. Therefore,
Bahasa Indonesia appropriately means the Indonesian language.
Indonesian is almost the same as Malay, which is spoken in
Malaysia. But bahasa Indonesia has many foreign influences, including
Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese and Chinese. An increasing number of English words have
also found their way into the Indonesian language.
Almost all Indonesian citizens are fluent in the
Indonesian language. This is in spite of the fact that there are actually over
365 different languages and dialects actively spoken across the Indonesian
archipelago! Even the smaller islands have at least one language that is
uniquely their own, such as on Bali. Other islands have many more languages. In
such a diverse multi-lingual environment, it is easy to see the vital need for a
unifying language. Bahasa Indonesia is that language.
Although English is understood and commonly spoken in
the tourist areas, the Indonesian people as a whole are often not fluent
speakers of English. Except for those who work in international business or the
travel industry, English is not usually essential to daily life in Indonesia and thus not
practiced on a regular basis.
English is a difficult language to learn.
Indonesian, on the other hand, is as easy as language learning gets, even for
people who have never studied a foreign language.
You might find it great fun, as
well as quite
useful to consider adding a few words of bahasa Indonesia to your repertoire of
memorized foreign phrases. Why? Because it is not necessary to travel to
Indonesia in order to find acquaintances with whom to chat in the Indonesian
people working in Asian restaurants and other service positions, especially in
larger cities around the world. Cruise vacations have become quite popular in recent
years. At least some crew members on most cruise ships are from
Indonesia. Most notably, Holland America Line and Windstar cruises hire a major
portion of their service staff exclusively from Indonesia. So whether you are on
a low-key Caribbean cruise, or are enjoying a casual dinner at the local Thai
restaurant, you will quite possibly have the opportunity to speak a little bahasa
Indonesia. Of course, if you do plan a visit to Indonesia, being able to
speak the language will make your trip that much more enjoyable.