Learn Indonesian

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About Indonesian

Indonesian, also known as bahasa Indonesia, is the lingua franca of Indonesia, a country of over 700 languages. It is the standardised form of Malay and understood by Malay speakers, despite certain vocabulary differences. Around 30 million people are native speakers of Indonesian and the rest - around 140 million - speak it as a second language. The majority of vocabulary is Austronesian in origin, but Indonesian has also been influenced by Dutch, English, Portuguese, Sanskrit, Hindi, Chinese and other languages.

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Planet Earth

Where is it spoken?


People Talking

Number of speakers


Family Tree

Language family




Fun facts — Indonesian

  • A false friend for English speakers is 'air', which in Indonesian means 'water'.
  • Indonesians have a concept called 'jam karet' - literally 'rubber time' - which refers to a flexible attitude towards deadlines and appointments.
  • Nouns can be repeated to form plurals or express similar concepts: 'langit' is sky but 'langit-langit' is ceiling, and 'mata' is eye while 'mata-mata' is spy.

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