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Will Dutch-Derived Indonesian Words be Slowly Displaced by Their English-Derived/Indonesian Equivalents

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Remember your History lesson, folks! Because today we are going to talk not only about Indonesian but also Dutch and English.

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Why bring the Dutch in?

Well, Indonesia experienced a long colonial history under Dutch rule. Their long period of existence in Indonesia then affected the culture, including language. Dutch has left an extensive imprint on Indonesian vocabulary which is something that we know up until now. It is estimated ten thousand words in Indonesian can be traced back to the Dutch. For examples:

  • “Aktual” (current, present) = “Actueel”
  • “Apotek” (pharmacy) = “Aphoteek”
  • “Baskom” (washbasin) = “Waskom”
  • “Beken” (famous, notorious) = “Bekend”
  • “Bioskop” (cinema) = “Bioscoop”
  • “Gang” (alley) = “Gang”
  • “Kos/indekos” (room rental) = “Kost”

Moreover, English is now the global language.

Of course, it is very common and popular to use English, including Indonesian people. Some people even use to mix Indonesian and English in their daily life. So, will Dutch-derived Indonesian words be slowly displaced by their English-derived/Indonesian equivalents?

Basically, many English words are now adopted in Indonesian due to globalization. You may notice some words in Indonesian is familiar to you, for examples:

  • Bisnis = Business
  • Diskon = Discount
  • Roket = Rocket
  • Sistem = System
  • Komplit = Complete
  • Partner = Partner

The displacement of Dutch-derived words, well, maybe can happen. Why?

Because of the number of Indonesian people who understand Dutch is decreasing from time to time. The great grandparents might be more familiar with Dutch rather than the kids and teenagers.

The younger one might now get a bigger impact from the English language, and start using them daily. And not to mention that English book, journal, or any other literature is way more accessible than the Dutch one. English is also a mandatory subject for the student from elementary school up until high school or even university.

For examples,

  • We are often more familiar with word “Gadget” or “Selfie”  rather than the actual Indonesian word which is  “Gawai” and “Swafoto”.
  • We usually say “Stroberi“, the derived word from English, rather than “Arbei“, the derived word from Dutch.
  • So does with “Arloji” or “watch” in English, and derived from Dutch word ” horloge“. But now Indonesian usually say it as “jam tangan” rather than “Arloji”.
  • Or have you ever heard “Branwir“? It is an Indonesian word which means “fire fighter” and adopted from Dutch “Brandweer“. We rarely hear “Branwir” because now we usually say it as “Pemadam kebakaran“.

Will the Dutch-derived words be gone? Well, up until today, Dutch still influences some aspect in Indonesian vocabulary, for instant, in numbering. We use “milyar“, derived word from the Dutch “miljard“, for “thousand million”.

Different from the Malay language who use “bilion” or “billion” which is influenced by English (again, remember your history lesson!).

English might be the universal language, but due to the long period of colonial link between Indonesia and Dutch, Dutch words might be rooted strongly as a part of Indonesian culture and language.

Do you know any other language that is close to Indonesian? what languages are closest to Indonesian language to find out!

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