Indonesian Word Derivation – The Origins and Development

Bahasa Indonesia is rooted from Malay languages which is also the same root language used in Malaysia. Besides rooted from Malay language, bahasa Indonesia also absorbed words from other languages which is known as loanwords. Absorbing words from other languages is mostly because of trading, colonization, or simply due to cultural influence. Here’s the material about Indonesian word derivation.

The Origins of Indonesian Language 

The discussion of Indonesian loanwords and the derivation is reflected from social, historical, and also cultural context. So what are the historical and cultural influences to Bahasa Indonesia?

  • Early Buddhist and Hindu from India results in many Indonesian words which absorbed from Sanskrit. More about this, Indian traders who come to Indonesia also contributed in Sanskrit and Tamil languages into Bahasa Indonesia.
  • Chinese traders and immigrants also bring influence to Bahasa Indonesia. There are many Indonesian words which are derived from Chinese such as Hokkien or Hakka as well as Chinese dialect.
  • Besides Chinese trader, Muslim traders from Arab and Persian also bring influence to Indonesian language and culture. Loads of Indonesian words are derived from Arabic and also Persian.
  • Portuguese contact through colonization and trade in 16th century becomes the first contact with European country. The influence the country receives from Portuguese remains until these days including in term of language even though the colonization was in a short time.
  • Dutch administration and colonization was the longest in the history. Lasting for around 350 century, Indonesian language is considered as Dutch-trained linguist. The language affected not only words but also the structure of Indonesian language. Some of the loanwords from Dutch are still commonly used in Bahasa Indonesia.
  • The modern bahasa Indonesian is also adapts from other languages such as English especially for technological words.

Speaking of Indonesian word derivation, there are some language classifications according to its origin. Take a look at the following list about the  Indonesian word derivation.

1. Austronesian languages

Austronesian language refers to the language which used within the local area of Indonesia. Indonesian may call it ‘bahasa daerah’ or local dialect. As there are loads of tribe in Indonesia, there are also numerous local dialects spoken throughout the archipelago. For most people, the local dialect is their language before learning the Indonesian.

Indonesian words which are influenced from the local dialect are still widely used until the present days. The types of Austronesian language to influence Indonesian words are Minangkabau languages, Javanese language, Sundanese language, Betawi language, Nias language, Batak language, Maluku language, Manado language, and Balinese language. 

2. Indian languages

Even though Buddhism and Hinduism are not the major religions in Indonesia, the language of Sanskrit and Sanskrit-related language becomes the vehicle which is still used in the religions. Sanskrit language is also the main source of neologism in bahasa Indonesia. The words derived from India covers many aspects of art, religion, and also everyday life.

The influence of India language comes from contact with India traders. Some of the Indonesian words either directly borrowed or coined from Sanskrit-related language. There are many forms of India language which influenced Indonesian language such as Sanskrit, Pali, Hindi, and Tamil.

3. Middle Eastern languages

The Middle Eastern language also takes part in word derivation in bahasa Indonesia. Long time ago, Middle Eastern traders comes to the country and force the native people to learn the language which then they adapt some words into bahasa Indonesia. Also, Middle Eastern language, especially Arabic, has much influence in bahasa Indonesia through Islam. There are much class of languages from Middle Eastern which becomes the root of Indonesian words such as Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew. 

4. East Asian languages

Chinese loanwords are usually associated with trade, cuisine, or things related to the Chinese. Other East Asian languages which also influence Indonesian words are Japanese (as the result of Japanese colonization), and Korean. The influence of Chinese language to Indonesian language still exist until these days as there are more Chinese descendants in the country.

5. European language

Similar to Sanskrit, the European language especially Portuguese and Dutch has the most significant influence to Bahasa Indonesia due to colonization and intervention. The most visible influence is the use of Latin alphabets for the bahasa Indonesia instead of the local scripts.

There are many European languge which influence bahasa Indonesia such as Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Greek, Latin, French, English, German, Russian, and Italian.

Language is always changing. The more interaction with other people from all over the world results in more neologisms. This makes a language rich in vocabulary including bahasa Indonesia which also rich in vocabularies.