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The Indonesian language


Indonesian, known locally as “Bahasa Indonesia”, is the official language of Indonesia and plays a crucial role in the country’s socio-cultural landscape.

History of Origins:

  • The Indonesian language is part of the Austronesian language family. Its most immediate predecessor is Malay, which developed following centuries of trade, political expansion, and cultural exchanges.
  • Indonesian was officially adopted as the national language of the newly independent Republic of Indonesia in 1945, unifying a linguistically diverse nation.
  • The language is primarily based on ‘Riau Malay’, spoken in the Riau archipelago. Numerous other local languages, such as Javanese, Sundanese, and Minangkabau, and foreign languages, like Arabic, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese and English, have enriched it.

Number of Speakers:

  • There are about 43.6 million native speakers of Indonesian.
  • Additionally, over 156 million people speak Indonesian as a second language, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

Where It Is an Official Language:

  • Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. It is used in all official communications, education, mass media, and in many aspects of daily life.
  • It also serves as a lingua franca within the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) community, allowing for effective communication among member nations.

Example of Text:

Selamat pagi, apa kabar? (Good morning, how are you?)

Where It Is Used and How:

  • Indonesian is predominantly used in Indonesia, a country of more than 17,000 islands with over 700 local languages.
  • It acts as a lingua franca, bridging the language divide among its diverse population.
  • The language is also used by Indonesian communities living abroad, such as in Malaysia, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and the USA.

Examples of English Words Used in Indonesian:

  • “Bus” (same meaning in Indonesian)
  • “Komputer” (from “computer”)
  • “Televisi” (from “television”)

Indonesian Words in English:

While Indonesian has borrowed many words from English, the reverse is less common. Nonetheless, a few Indonesian words have made their way into English:

  • “Batik”: A traditional Indonesian method of dyeing cloth.
  • “Orangutan”: A type of great ape native to Indonesia and Malaysia. In Indonesian, ‘orang hutan’ means ‘person of the forest’.
  • “Ketchup”: This word is believed to originate from the Indonesian word “kecap” (pronounced ketchup), a type of sweet soy sauce.


Despite its humble origins, the Indonesian language has grown to become a language of significance in the ASEAN region, highlighting the rich linguistic tapestry of Southeast Asia. Its user-friendly phonetics and its dynamic evolution continue attracting new learners, extending its influence even further.


It is key for businesses wanting to communicate their brand to Indonesian residents to use experienced Indonesian translators.

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Our translation services - FAQ

Do you use native translators?

Yes, always. All our translators are native speakers and most are still resident in their native country. We pride ourselves on ensuring that all Brightlines’ translators are native. We do not accept applications from non-native candidates or allow them to register on our online recruitment database. All our translators are rigorously tested.

How long will the translations take?

The turnaround for the translation will depend on the word count. As a rough guide, assume that the translators can comfortably process about 2500 words of non-specialised text per day. Proofreading can effectively be completed on a basis of 4000-6000 words a day. Our minimum turnaround time is usually about three days, although it is possible to shorten this if you are in a rush for the final files and we will always be happy to discuss this with you.

What is the variation in your translators’ experience and qualifications? Are they native speakers? Will the cost increase if we use a more experienced translator?

All our translators have to go through a series of tests to make sure they are as good as they say they are, and only if they pass are they allowed to work for Brightlines. There is quite a range of experience and qualifications, but all translators have a minimum of five years’ experience. All translators translate into their mother-tongue without exception and are generally based in-country so they are up-to-date with the local language. We match translators with projects/clients depending on the subject matter, and most of our translators have industry experience in their speciality – there is no better experience than being immersed professionally in the industry they specialise in. Our costs are based on translator experience, speciality (i.e. medical, creative, scientific) and the language choice.

Which languages can you translate into?

We have an extensive database with hundreds of trusted and tested translators covering all commercial languages. If you cannot see the language or dialect you need please ask.

I don’t know the word count; can you base the quote on the number of pages?

Our pricing structure is based on a rate-per-word, but we can estimate from a page count. If we can’t see the source document then we would usually estimate between 300 – 500 words a page depending on the density of the text and the presence of photos and images.

Does the translation need to be proofread?

Brightlines is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company. This means that quality is safeguarded. We adhere to the “four-eyes principle” and translations are always checked by a second professional proofreader (who is not the translator). If the translation is for internal use and reference purposes only (i.e. not to be published, distributed or used in a court of law), or you simply don’t wish to have proofreading, we can remove the proofreading stage.

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If you need Indonesian translations, get in touch with our team, or get a quick quote.